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December 14, 2001
Shrine Bowl Breakdown
More than 30 of the nation's top football prospects will be participating in the annual Shrine Bowl game between North Carolina and South Carolina this Saturday, Dec. 15th at Rock Hill's District Three Stadium. South Carolina has dominated this battle recently handing back-to-back losses to North Carolina with a combined score of 90-17. Things will not get easier for N.C. in 2001. Five players the likes of WR Mario Raley and OL Brandon Jeffries will be missing from Saturday's game due to state playoffs conflicts.
Enough about the history, let's take a look at one of the intriguing match-ups featured this Saturday.
North Carolina's Offensive Line versus South Carolina's Defensive Line
N.C.'s front five features Derek Morris and Dan Inman (pictured) as the bookends with Whit Efrid and David Jorgenson in the middle. Throw in tight ends, Aaron Kirkland and Brandon Schweitzer (who will see time at fullback) and you have a line that should give QB Curt Dukes plenty of time in the pocket.
The tackles Morris and Inman are the obvious showcase here. The No. 2-rated lineman in the county, Morris (6-6, 350 pounds), showed fantastic feet and better quickness than his 5.1 forty suggests. His services would be a huge addition to one of his top three; Ohio State, Georgia or Tennessee. The 6-7, 300 pound Inman could easily carry more weight, but was equally impressive and looks to be a huge steal for East Carolina. North Carolina fans will be very happy with commit Whit Efrid. Though he was towered over by the tackles, Efrid held his own and got out quickly for kick out blocks on sweeps and screens.
Kirkland may have been the best combination of size and athleticism on the field. At 6-5, 240 pound, Kirkland showed good hands and an ability to get down the field with relative ease suggesting that his 4.8 forty may be a bit deceiving. Currently he has no college favorite, but has interest in Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee, North Carolina and says that Maryland is not in the picture. Schweitzer, spent the majority of his time playing fullback and looked like a natural. Hes still a strong candidate for South Carolina, but mentioned he will still take visits to Florida, Maryland and North Carolina.
Although South Carolina's defensive line did not stand out in practice as much as NC's offensive line, it wasn't because they're not a talented bunch. In fact, they may be more talented than their northern counterparts, but the skills displayed at linebacker, quarterback and wide receiver for the Palmetto State took some of the line's glory away.
The first line of defense for S.C. features big Moe Thompson, Mickey Rice and the athletic Anthony Littlejohn (pictured). Noticeably missing is arguably the top d-lineman in S.C., Marlboro County's Antwan Morgan; The Bulldogs, sent two other worthy players, OL Frederick Townsend and DB Quinton Teal, instead.
Even without Morgan, this line will create several problems for North Carolina. Though he's listed at 6-4, 255 pounds, Thompson plays more like 6-5, 330 pound noseguard with the speed of a 6-2 230 linebacker. Thompson, who is also the No. 34 ranked tight end in the country, will have to be accounted for on every play or N.C. will have a hard time moving the ball. Beside him, the big and agile Littlejohn surprised onlookers with his athleticism at 6-1, 290 pounds. Littlejohn confirmed that despite having offers from Auburn, South Carolina and Tennesse, he has not set any visits. Rice, a 6-1 320 pound tackle with offers from South Carolina and Tennessee, is simply immovable on the inside.
Size: North Carolina - Morgan and Inman will tower over the South Carolina defensive line.
Speed: South Carolina - No doubt that the Palmetto State has a definite edge in this category
Athleticism: Push - Sheer individual athleticism would go to South Carolina without a doubt. But when looking at the athleticism displayed for the positions that they play, it's a push.
Footwork: Push - You don't get much better than the front line for North Carolina, but to give them an edge in this category would be a miscarriage of justice to their opponents.
Intangibles: South Carolina - When you put everything together, the Palmetto State gets the edge. S.C. combines the size, athleticism and speed necessary to stop the run and rush the pass.
Overall: South Carolina - North Carolina will hang for a little while, but expect South Carolina to have a significant edge in this battle by halftime.
Match-ups to Watch:
DL Moe Thompson versus Tackles Derek Morris and Daniel Inman
DT Anthony Littlejohn versus Guard Whit Efrid