Remember last year when Lakewood defensive end Dante Fowler put the prep world in a tizzy by predicting he would get 30 sacks?
And remember when I used to be young, and didn’t use words like “tizzy”? Good times.
This year, Fowler is again gunning for 30 sacks, and so is Jefferson’s Tyriq McCord. But we’re realists here at HomeTeam, and we don’t see either player getting there.
It did, however, raise our question of the day:
Who will get more sacks this season between arguably our two finest pass rushers: Fowler or McCord?
One three-way phone call later, we might have our answer.
Dante Fowler and Tyriq McCord, seniors. The two players are actually remarkably alike — strong enough to play on the line with their hand in the dirt, and fast enough to step in at linebacker.
Fowler has the thicker lower body, while McCord is chiseled up top. Their quickness off the edge is excellent and separates them from other pass rushers.
Fowler, an FSU commitment, had 20 sacks, and McCord, still undecided but loaded with prime offers, had 18.5.
The goal: 30 sacks
Why is this the magic number? For McCord, it’s simple — South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, the unanimous top recruit in the country last year, had 29.5: “That’s my goal right there.”
For Fowler, 30 is three sacks a game, which he thinks he should get every week. He’s not predicting 30, but he really wants to get there:
“I want to get in the 20-25 range, but at the same time I think I can get to 30.’’
Both players’ rushing skills will be maximized. Fowler says he will be used like Plant used James Wilder Jr. last season: everywhere from linebacker to the edge to tackle. “There’s no offensive line that can guard that,” he said.
McCord will be used like former Dragon Ramik Wilson was last season, and Wilson was a true wrecking ball of a player. “All I can see is the money sign on the top of the quarterback’s helmet and I’m going to get there.”
The supporting cast
Fowler says his Spartans have more experience returning, and are bigger in the trenches, which could free him up. McCord concedes Jefferson has a lot to replace, and not having Wilson will lead to more double teams. But he says the Dragons have some nice young players we will all know soon enough.
Lakewood’s is slightly easier, but you have to wonder how many times against wing-T teams Seminole and St. Petersburg that Fowler will get sack chances. (Last year, he had none against St. Petersburg.)
The offensive lines at Middleton, Lennard, Spoto, Blake, Gibbs and Dunedin could hold the key to Fowler’s prolificness.
McCord’s schedule has Armwood on it, and need we say more? They also play a national game in Ohio.
Both games will be tough, but McCord says those are his big motivation games, his chance to show off, so they could be more ripe for sacks than you think. (Believe it or not, Fowler agrees.)
McCord also plays King, and his good buddy Greg Windham.
“Greg has been talking soooo much. That’s four sacks right there,’’ McCord said. “I’m standing up …you got me standing up right now. Greg Windham, I’m gonna kill him. I mean, not kill him like that …but I want his head.’’
Sickles doesn’t throw much, and Jefferson closes with Leto, Strawberry Crest and Brandon.
“Oh maaaannnn,’’ Fowler says, sounding a little disappointed.
So, who wins?
Fowler predictably predicts he will. He says he plays more teams that run the spread, equaling more sack chances. He doesn’t face any dominant offensive lines — the best may be Jesuit, but the Tigers will also throw a lot — and coach Cory Moore is all about setting him loose.
McCord says no way he doesn’t get more sacks. He says he has more motivation, with games against top-flight teams fueling him. Plus, Jefferson won’t be in as many blowouts this season, so he won’t be sitting the bench as much in the second half.
McCord thinks Fowler will get 17 sacks. Fowler thinks McCord will get 20 or 21.
Remember that separated shoulder in the spring? I do.
Fowler says he’s okay, but we’ll see when he starts mixing it up again with pads on. I’m factoring at least one game missed for precautionary reasons in my prediction, for the record.
Tyriq McCord will have more sacks than Dante Fowler this season. But it will be close. These are two of the best players around who make watching defense a hoot (there I go again), but in the end McCord ends up with 21 sacks, and Fowler gets 18.5.
Eduardo A. Encina: McCord 17, Fowler 15. Plan to see McCord come of the line from many different angles, much like former Jefferson LB Ramik Wilson did last year. The question is whether McCord has a pass-rushing complement on defense that he was for Wilson last year. Fowler will likely get his share of free reign, too, but I think McCord's defense is better overall, so he gets the edge.
Joey Knight: Fowler, 22-16. I anticipate the numbers to be high for both, because frankly we don't know who's tabulating the sack totals. Fowler's total will be higher only because Jefferson plays a far tougher schedule.
Bob Putnam: Fowler 22, McCord 21. Fowler benefits from playing mostly spread offenses this year and goes up against some suspect offensive lines.
Some of our Facebook fans say
I'm picking McCord to have more sacks ...How can you go against Optimus Prime?! I don't run with Deceptacons! Lol -- A.J. Leppla.
Bryan Fischer -- Fowler, he has been consistent throughout his whole career at Lakewood. There is a reason they call him "Manchild"