Name: Harold Landry
Position: Defensive End
Hometown: Spring Lake, North Carolina
High School: Pine Forest
2016 Stats: Only one word works to describe Harold Landry’s 2016 season: dominant. Landry rampaged through 2016, leading the entire nation with 16.5 sacks, to go along with 22 tackles for loss. Landry forced 7 fumbles, the most since 2011. He was the face of the vaunted Eagle defensive line that won bowl Quick Lane Bowl MVP, a game in which he alone had 1.5 sacks and an interception (his lone one on the season, which raises the question: Can Landry improve his pass defense?). He terrorized lineman and gave offensive coordinators fits, recording sacks in every game except two. He fought through double teams and chased down scrambling quarterbacks and emerged as a premier pass rusher in not only the ACC but the nation as a whole.
Projections: Landry surprised a few of people when he came back for his senior year. Scouts projected him as a firm Day 2 pick, in part because he’s not quite NFL DE size yet, and there is always risk involved in converting a DE to an OLB. So Landry decided to stay and prove that he is first round talent. He is only the second sack leader to return for another year since 2005, the other being Von Miller staying at Texas A&M in 2010. That is pretty decent company to be in.
Athlon Sports projects Landry as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, which seems optimistic but entirely within the realm of possible. The continued improvement of Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray should mean that opposing offenses cannot focus entirely on Landry, and therefore he should continue to wreak havoc across the ACC.
Over/Under: 20 sacks. Yeah that’s right, he’s about to shatter the record set by Elvis Dumervil in 2005.
How’d He Get Here: A three star recruit, based on 247 composite rankings, Boston College was the first school to offer Landry and he committed less than a month later. But then the offers came flooding in, from powerhouses like Clemson, South Carolina, Florida State, Ohio State, and Auburn (and a myriad of other schools. He had 19 offers in total). But his commitment, though rocky at times, stuck and now he’s here doing great things.
See his senior year highlights below
Quotables from the man himself:
"I don't think we made a lot of adjustments [to our gameplan]. I think it's moreso the coaches really zoned in on our fundamentals and our technique and getting back to that. After the long season, you can get pretty sloppy with it, and just this whole spring, we've just been focused on developing everybody individually, making them a better player. I think that's what the spring is about, just becoming a better player, not so much focused on the scheme of things but moreso about just making everybody better, and I think that's what we did."
“I think defensively we just have like this chemistry. I think we all feed off each other, and I think once camp rolls around and get the few that are out right now, we get that chemistry with them back, I think we'll be pretty set for the season." - Harold Landry after the Spring Game
Follow him on twitter: @HAROLDLANDRY2
ESPN wrote a great article on him returning for another year that you can read here.