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4-star DT Rick Sandidge wrecks offensive linemen. Can South Carolina land him?

Sandidge is one of 2018’s most explosive linemen.

Four-star Concord, N.C. defensive tackle Rick Sandidge released a top-seven list of schools on Monday. The schools to make the cut: Florida, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Penn State, North Carolina, Michigan, and South Carolina. The Gamecocks are the strong favorite to land him, per the consensus on the 247Sports Crystal Ball.

Sandidge is one of my favorite recruits in the class of 2018, where he’s ranked as the No. 11 defensive tackle, No. 134 overall player, and No. 6 prospect in North Carolina. I think he’s better than those spots, which are already really good. It’s hard to find 6’5, nearly 300-pound defensive tackles who can explode off the line like ends and occupy blockers like Vince Wilfork-style nose tackles. But Sandidge can.

I’ve watched Sandidge a couple of times this season, at a regional camp and then at the finals for The Opening, a top Nike showcase. He was among the three or four best defensive linemen at both events. Sandidge bursts out of his stance so quickly after the snap, and he moves with such force, that offensive linemen can’t do much about him. He’s a dominant prospect who clearly enjoys burying his opponents.

If Sandidge does what the experts expect and chooses South Carolina, he’ll be an enormous addition in more ways than one. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp is a defensive mind by trade, but he inherited a bare cupboard when he took over in Columbia before the 2016 season. Last year’s team gave up 4.8 yards per carry, the No. 93 mark in the country. Sandidge is the sort of player who can change run-stopping fortunes in a hurry, and he has real upside as an interior pass rusher, too.