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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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.