Preview 2019: Clemson. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

Preview 2019: Clemson. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

Clemson

Preview 2019: Clemson. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

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4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLEMSON DEFENSE

It’s Clemson, so it reloads when it comes to the defensive line – it’s done it before and was more than fine – but even superpower programs take a step back after losing a line with Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant, and big-time backup/fill-in tackle Albert Huggins.

Again, though, it’s Clemson. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Xavier Thomas was one of last year’s superstar recruits, and now the 6-2, 260-pound sophomore talent will get a full-time end job after making 35 tackles with 3.5 sacks as a true freshman.

6-2, 265-pound junior Justin Foster made 18 tackles and will work on the other end with 6-2, 240-pound sophomore Logan Rudolph and 6-4, 240-pound redshirt freshman KJ Henry – who was right there with Thomas in last year’s recruiting class – will battle for time.

The tackles are a slightly bigger issue. 6-1, 305-pound Nyles Pinckney and 6-4, 305-pound sophomore Jordan Williams have to try to replace the irreplaceable. The pressure will be on freshman Tyler Davis and junior Xavier Kelly to do more than just be a part of a rotation.

The line will, of course, be more than fine. The linebacking corps, though, is a real concern after Shaq Smith transferred to Maryland and with Kendall Joseph and Tre Lamar off to the NFL.

6-4, 225-pound Isaiah Simmons returns after leading the team with 89 tackles, and 240-pound junior James Skalski brings size and a little experience after doing a decent job in the rotation in 2017 and redshirting last year. Fellow 249-pound junior Chad Smith made 32 tackles in 2018 – he’ll battle for the inside job.

This was a major emphasis in the latest recruiting class, with 220-pound Bruton Constantin and 215-pounders Keith Maguire and LaVonta Bentley among the group getting long looks right out of the box.

Yeah, there’s reason to be a wee bit worried about the front seven – at least when it comes to being national title-level good – but …

The secondary is amazing. The only question mark is at one corner with all-star Trayvon Mullen gone, but part-time receiver Derion Kendrick appears ready to step in and shine in the spot on the other side of future NFL lockdown starter AJ Terrell on the other side.

The safeties are settled, too, with 5-11, 210-pound hitter K’Von Wallace and 6-1, 230-pound banger Tanner Muse back after the two combined for 114 tackles.

There’s depth and a whole lot of talent waiting in the wings, helped out by a great recruiting class. Andrew Booth will eventually be amazing at corner, Sheridan Jones will someday start on the other side, and Joseph Charleston is a future all-star at safety.

NEXT: Top Players, Keys To the Season, What Will Happen

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