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Don't Sleep On The Troy Defensive Line In 2016

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After a better defensive season in 2015, the Troy Trojans look to take the next step forward with an experienced and explosive defensive line.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In a season that saw the Troy Trojans slowly turn into a solid program once again, the defensive line, led by graduating senior Tyler Roberts, finally started to show signs of improvement.

Despite losing the record setting Roberts to graduation, the Trojans could show some improvement in the upcoming season in the trenches with three returnees that saw significant action last fall. Overall, the returning group of defensive linemen that are expected to contribute made up for 126 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks last fall.

Which defensive linemen are expected to step up and help lead Troy back to its first bowl game since the 2010 New Orleans Bowl.

Returnees:

Despite a couple of starters lost after the 2015 season, the Trojans actually look to be in very solid shape with three significant returning contributors.

First on the list is defensive end Rashad Dillard (30/9/7). The rising senior has been in the shadow of Roberts, but should be able to break out in 2016. Even in somewhat limited action, Dillard amassed a team-high seven sacks and finished second on the team with nine tackles for loss. He is the only senior defensive lineman on the team and is in line to star this fall.

Redshirt freshmen Uvakeious McGhee and Antione Barker should see their first action as sophomore in backup of Dillard.

Defensive tackle Jamal Stadom (34/5/2) is one of the few Florida natives on the team and played well last fall. He is a bit undersized at only 6-2, 266 pounds, but Stadom can play well within the right defensive tackle rotation.

Ariton native Seth Calloway (25/5/2.5) will be almost a co-starter with Stadom with the coaching staff feeling comfortable with either in the lineup. Redshirt freshman Demone Kemp should round out the defensive tackle rotation.

Massive nose tackle Trevon Sanders (34/1/0) made an impressive 34 tackles as a true freshman in 2015 and should be a rock in the middle. If he continues to improve like he did in 2015, we could be talking about an All-Sun Belt performer during his last two seasons with the Trojans.

Mobile native Bryan Slater (3/0/0) will bring added depth, while sophomore Jarvis Bryant could turn into a contributor in the future, but is not ready yet.

Departed:

The Trojans had three senior defensive linemen on the 2015 roster, led by star Tyler Roberts (61/17/7). The Hoover native was the team leader in tackles for loss and sacks, while finishing fourth on the team in total tackles. Fellow seniors  Carnell Simon (8/0.5/0) and D.J. Johnson (11/3/1) were more role players than anything and will be more easily replaced.

Rising junior Sam Lebbie was moved from defensive end to the Bandit position, a linebacker/defensive end hybrid that will show off his pass rushing skills.  Defensive tackle Rodney Flowers left the program after originally walking on from Faulkner University and never seeing any playing time. Brady Koenning, son of defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, spent his freshman year with the team but is no longer on the roster. Defensive end Barrett Perry left the team after failing to break into the lineup last fall.

Finally, Millbrook native Garrett Peek (15/1.5/1) made the decision in April to forgo his final year of eligibility despite starting all 12 games last fall. Peek saw action in 36 career games and made 29 career tackles from his defensive end position. ml

Incoming:

The Trojans were able to bring in four new faces to the defensive line pool for the upcoming 2016 season.

JUCO transfer Baron Poole II is the most important of the four due to his ability to play early. The 6-2, 280 pound nose guard has already been through a spring practice, establishing himself as the top choice to backup Trevon Sanders. He spent two years at Hinds CC, compiling 12 sacks and over 60 career tackles. He will see significant playing time this fall.

Incoming freshmen Kelvin Lucky could turn out to be the next Demarcus Ware if things go according to plan. He was the highest rated recruit in the 2016 class and turned down offers from Texas, UCLA, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa State, Cal, and Vanderbilt to come to Troy. Expect the coaching staff to take it slowly with Lucky as he is a very raw talent, but he has potential to be one of the best players to put on a Trojan uniform.

Fellow incoming freshmen Marcus Webb and Michael Robinson are not just roster fillers. Webb is the more polished product with five other FBS programs offering a scholarship. Robinson is a player than has the size (6-4/285) that could be turned into something special. Neither should see playing time as freshmen.

Projected Two-Deep:

Defensive End:

  • Rashad Dillard
  • Uvakeious McGhee.

Defensive Tackle:

  • Jamal Stadom
  • Seth Calloway

Nose Guard:

  • Trevon Sanders
  • Baron Poole II