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South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles emerging as top DL prospect

Kim Klement / USA Today Sports
South Carolina DT Kelcy Quarles has a team-high seven sacks this season, including two Saturday vs. Missouri.

The emergence of South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles as one of the Southeastern Conference's most productive defensive tackle peaked Saturday, when the junior recorded three tackles for loss in a come-from-behind win at Missouri, including a pair of sacks.

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For the effort, he was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Quarles has 10 tackles for loss on the season for 85 yards in losses, including a team-high seven sacks. In both categories, he's second in the SEC only to Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.

Quarles has made 25 tackles on the year, with an impressive solo-to-assist ratio of 19-6.

While Quarles (6-4, 298 pounds) has emerged as a top interior defensive lineman, it's been a tough season injury-wise for other top SEC players at the position. No fewer than four SEC teams have lost a starting defensive tackle for the season, several of them NFL prospects -- Robert Thomas, Arkansas; Jeff Whitaker, Auburn; Dominique Easley, Florida; and Kirby Ennis, Texas A&M.

Depending on where Quarles lines up Saturday against Mississippi State, he should see some head-to-head action against one of the nation's top pro prospects at offensive guard in Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson. NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt has rated Jackson the nation's No. 24-ranked senior in the college game in his Hot 100 list.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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