Kelcy Quarles reminds Steve Spurrier of Warren Sapp.
And if the South Carolina defensive tackle has even half the career production as the Pro Football Hall of Famer who was a dominant presence in 13 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, he'll be well worth a high draft choice. Sapp made 96.5 career sacks, most of them with the Bucs, and had a special ability to penetrate and disrupt from an interior position.
Quarles, among the SEC leaders in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (seven), has shown the same knack at the SEC level. And for good measure, he and Sapp even share the same jersey number (99).
"I've told people he reminds me a little bit of Warren Sapp, because he's got a little bit of a belly, but he can move," Spurrier said. "He's quick and he's fast. He can run guys down. He's had an excellent year for us."
Quarles (6-foot-4, 298 pounds), a junior, is wrestling with a decision of whether or not to turn pro early. The junior's father said weeks ago that his son would indeed leave for the NFL, but the player has wavered. In fact, he's even struggling to decide whether to be part of the Gamecocks' Senior Day ceremony Saturday, which tends to indicate draft intentions but doesn't in any way obligate a player to leave school.
Spurrier's comparison of Quarles to Sapp was unprompted on Wednesday's SEC coaches media teleconference. He was asked instead whether Quarles' skill set was at all similar to former Gamecocks defensive lineman Melvin Ingram.
"Kelcy has had some really good games this year. He's a little bigger than Melvin, probably not quite as quick," Spurrier said. "Melvin could play fullback, actually, almost could play tight end, he could play a lot of positions. Kelcy's definitely a defensive tackle."