Defensive Spring Battles


  by - Radio Host - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 1:40 PM
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Defensive Spring Battles
Spring football practice begins today, so yesterday we took a look at several key battles on the offensive side of the football. Here is a look at several key battles on the defensive side of the ball this spring:

Defensive End
There are several story lines to follow at defensive end this spring. Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
So. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

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was forced to play as a true freshman and started last season. He was not a major factor early in the season but become a better player towards the end of the year. Crawford has a lot of physical tools and is entering his third year in the program. This defense would be much better if he took a major step forward this spring.

Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS So. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

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was a big surprise as a pass rusher in spot situations as a sophomore. He actually led the Tigers in sacks despite not playing until passing situations. Can he be an every down defensive end? Can he get big enough to be a guy that sets the edge against the run? This is a big spring for Beasley if he wants to increase his role.

We got glimpses of Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-5, 280
Greer, SC

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and Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
RS So. Defensive End
#6 6-4, 275
Jacksonville, FL

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last year. Both have ability but both are inexperienced. Spring practice is a chance where players like this can take the next step. Maybe Dodd or Barnes is ready to be a big factor at defensive end.

This spring will be the first chance the staff gets to see Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Defensive End
#90 6-4, 240
Central, SC

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and Ebenezer Ogundeko on the practice field. Both are talented and both have big opportunities to make a nice first impression on Clemson defensive end coach Marion HobbyMarion Hobby
Assistant Coach / Defensive Ends
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. Don't be surprised if one or both of these players climb the depth chart coming out of the spring.

Defensive Tackle
Did any coach in America do more with less than Clemson defensive tackle coach Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line
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last season? Brooks is known as one of the nation's top defensive line coaches and last season may have been his best work.

This spring there is depth, experience and talent to work with at these spots. Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
So. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
Conyers, GA

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had a terrific season in his first year as a starter and returns for his junior season. Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
Wilmington, DE

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was a huge surprise in his sophomore campaign and is one of the strongest players on the team this spring. DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
So. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 285
Central, SC

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has seen a bunch of big snaps in his first two seasons. Last year two true freshmen, D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-3, 335
Greensboro, NC

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and Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 300
Forest City, NC

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, played and showed a ton of potential.

Brooks has five defensive tackles in the junior and sophomore classes that he feels good about, so the issue this spring won't be the sense of urgency to find playmakers. Instead it will be to continue to develop these guys and identify which players deserve more snaps. Reader looks like he is a different athlete and my guess is that he will have a chance to see his role increase this spring. Remember that baseball is a factor with him as well.

Linebacker
Like Brooks, Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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did a terrific job with his linebackers a season ago. Kellen JonesKellen Jones
So. Linebacker
#52 6-1, 215
Houston, TX

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is a transfer from Oklahoma that will get his longest look this spring because he becomes eligible this fall. Jones is a talent and adds depth here I will be interested to see the battle between Jones and Spencer ShueySpencer Shuey
RS Jr. Linebacker
#33 6-3, 230
Charlotte, NC

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who played well in the second half of 2012.

Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
So. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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has not lived up to his five star billing yet but he is still young and might get a longer look at a new position this fall. If Anthony moves to the WILL linebacker it could be the one spark he has been looking for.

Tony StewardTony Steward
So. Linebacker
#7 6-1, 235
Hastings, FL

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is healthy for the first time in his Clemson career and the staff is expecting big this from his this season. This former five star prospect looks like he is ready to explode onto the scene.

Quandon ChristianQuandon Christian
RS Jr. Linebacker
#34 6-2, 225
Lake View, SC

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has a chance to solidify his spot at SAM this spring but I am also interested in two other linebackers that could play a couple of positions. Justin ParkerJustin Parker
Jr. Linebacker
#8 6-1, 235
Port Royal, SC

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is returning from a medical red-shirt season and has promise. B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS So. Linebacker
#44 6-1, 240
Timmonsville, SC

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will get a longer look this spring at an inside linebacker spot as well.

In summary, this linebacking corps has more answers than questions for the first time in recent seasons.

Secondary
The Tigers had major issues last year in the third level of the defense but Mike ReedMike Reed
Defensive Backs Coach
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was brought in as the new defensive back coach to help with those issues. Three starters are gone but the staff hopes Baushad Breeland, Darius RobinsonDarius Robinson
Jr. Cornerback
#21 5-10, 175
College Park, GA

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and Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
Jr. Cornerback
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

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return from injury and have a successful spring. Ronald Geohagen and Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
Fr. Defensive Back
#11 6-1, 190
Tallahassee, FL

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may get the first chances to win the safety spots also.

It is important for those guys to have a good spring because the staff signed seven or possibly eight defensive backs in February and improved the talent level. I would not be surprised to see MacKensie Alexander, Jayron Kearse, Korrin Wiggins and Adrian Baker step in and have a chance to help as true freshmen.

A new position coach and three graduating starters means there is a fresh start here. Reed would love to find some answers this spring but if not, the freshmen may be the answers.

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Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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