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We Hardly Knew Ye: Sunshine Sackers From Hell

Defensive ends Calais Campbell of Miami and Derrick Harvey of Florida each declared early for the NFL Draft today, meaning offensive coordinators in the ACC and SEC may temporarily breathe easier until the next great Cane/Gator edge-rushing terrors come screaming inevitably around their tackles and into their own millions.

Actually, both Campbell and Harvey were ultimately more productive in the pass rush as sophomores in 2006, when their destructive talents were largely unknown and, in Harvey’s case, were coming off the bench into a lineup way too deep to focus on any one player. The marauding line that made its indelible mark on college football and set the quixotic inter-conference debate back ten years with its primetime unleashing of "SEC speed" on Troy Smith in last year’s mythical championship sent Jarvis Moss, Ray McDonald, Marcus Thomas and Steven Harris on to fat paychecks in the pros, and Harvey – the star of the chapionship game, with an MVP three-sack performance and a fumble recovery that set up the Gators’ clinching touchdown in the second quarter – became the focal point of blocking schemes, double teams and chipping running backs, and sacks and hurries were down as a result:
Derrick Harvey, This is Your College Career
Tackles For Loss Sacks QB Hurries Pass Def.
2005 5 1 1 0 1
2006 30 13.5 11 8 0
2007 34 14 6.5 3 5
Career 69 28.5 18.5 11 6

Harvey is considered a slightly better prospect than Campbell at this early stage because of his speed, but Campbell is huge for a defensive end (6-8, 282) and brutally fast for that size. He was, amazingly, a touted linebacker when he arrived at Miami, but added weight and moved down to finish fourth in the nation and lead all BCS conferences in tackles for loss in 2006, 10.5 of those coming on sacks. Again, with linemates Kareem Brown and Baraka Atkins gone to the NFL, the pressure of anchoring a younger line on a slowly collapsing team was a drain on Campbell’s individual production:

Calais Campbell, This is Your College Career
Tackles For Loss Sacks QB Hurries Pass Def.
2005 19.5 6 2.5 0 3
2006 46.5 20.5 10.5 1 3
2007 40 12.5 6.5 5 2
Career 106 39 19.5 6 8

But both are prototype combinations of size, speed and long-armed nastiness for whom opposing quarterbacks will hold epic, joyous farewell parties. These things change fairly quickly on the slightest whims in the three months between the declaration and the draft, but both are safe bets for the first round, the second at worst. They are destined to become rich, dangerous men.

Other underclassmen declaring today: all-ACC guard Branden Albert of Virginia and inconsistent Syracuse blazer Taj Smith. Godspeed, men!

Update [2008-1-4 1:9:58 by SMQ]: A double shot for the Gators: freakish tight end/receiver Cornelius Ingram, ex-blue chip quarterback, also declared for the draft. Ingram is a project and a liability as a blocker, but he'll instantly become one of the most physically talented receiving ends in the league, however raw.