Keeping the Tradition
|Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 10:54 AM- -|
Keeping the Tradition
In my formative years as a Clemson fan, I grew up watching the Tigers dominate up front defensively. Clemson prided itself as "Linebacker U." but it all started up front.
I remember the days of Jim Stuckey, Steve Durham, Dan Benish, Jeff Bryant, William Perry, James Robinson, Steve Berlin, Michael Dean Perry, Tony Stephens, Mark Drag, Richard McCullough, Vance Hammond, Otis Moore, Rob Bodine, Chester McGlockton and
Brentson BucknerBrentson Buckner
Defensive Tackle (1990 - 1993)
#89 6-3, 315
View Full Profile .
Clemson had a few great ones in the late 1990s like
Trevor PryceTrevor Pryce
Defensive Tackle (1996)
# 6-5, 290
View Full Profile but the decline of the program could be seen in the number of great defensive tackles and how it had declined as well.
The program had 22 All-ACC selections at defensive tackle from 1978-1993. They had only 12 All-ACC selections at defensive tackle from 1994-2008.
Clemson had eight All-American at defensive tackle from 1979-1991. They had one All-American at defensive tackle from 1991-2009. It is no coincidence that Clemson won seven ACC titles from 1978 to 1993 and no titles from 1994-2010.
I think there are two reasons Clemson's defensive tackles have improved to the point where they have helped the Tigers who have won 30-plus games, an ACC title and a BCS bowl in the last three years. First is defensive tackle coach
Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line
View Full Profile . I am not sure there is a better defensive tackle coach in the country. Brooks has been coaching defensive line at powers like Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee since 1983. Brooks coached at Florida from 1983-1987, at North Carolina from 1988-1993 and Tennessee from 1994-2008.
Once Brooks arrived at Clemson the defensive tackle play has improved.
Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Defensive Tackle (2008 - 2011)
#98 6-2, 310
View Full Profile who made the All-ACC squad in 2011. In 2010 he coached Jarvis JenkinsJarvis Jenkins
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-4, 315
View Full Profile who was a first team All-ACC before moving on to the NFL.
This season Clemson has what one pre-season publication has called the nation's fourth best defensive line. A major reason for that is the depth Brooks has helped develop at defensive tackle.
Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
View Full Profile , DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 285
View Full Profile , Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS Sr. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
View Full Profile , D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-2, 335
View Full Profile , Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 300
View Full Profile , Rod Byers and Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-4, 280
View Full Profile give Brooks the luxury of terrific depth at the position.
Player development has been the other huge key to the success of the unit. Carlos Watkins was highly recruited and chose Clemson over Florida and Scott Pagano chose Clemson over schools like Alabama and LSU. However most of this productive group was not that highly recruited. Few coaches or talent evaluators envisioned Grady Jarrett becoming perhaps the most dominant defensive tackle in the ACC this season. DeShawn Williams was not highly recruited out of Daniel High School in Central, SC. Josh Watson was highly rated out of prep school but his recruiting was not on the national stage. D.J. Reader had some ACC offers but was not thought of as a national prospect.
Brooks and the entire developmental staff deserve a lot of credit for turning what was once a weak spot into one of the nationally ranked defensive tackle groups in the country.
Now that tradition continues. Clemson got its second defensive tackle commitment for 2015 yesterday when Sterling Johnson chose the Tigers. Johnson had offers from Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, Florida, Florida State, etc.
Johnson joins Greenwood, SC native Gage Cervenka who also committed to Clemson a few weeks ago. The Emerald High School defensive tackle had offers from Miami, NC State and Virginia Tech among others. He is a wrestling star that saw his stock soar in the spring.
Clemson will take at least one more defensive tackle in the upcoming recruiting class and can now afford to be very selective in this process.
At Clemson the defensive tackle unit looks like it is in good shape for the foreseeable future.
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Levon KirklandLevon Kirkland
# 0, 0
View Full Profile and family, Catherine Sewell, Randy Davenport, Patrick DeStefanoPatrick DeStefano
Offensive Line (2012 - 2013)
#71 6-5, 275
View Full Profile , David Vaughn, Keith Dalton, B.T., Bill Hilbig, Rita Elrod Hammond and family, Jim McKeller, Tony Alewine, Sharon Storck, Dick Baird, Mark Whiten, and our great country and the men and women in uniform that protect and serve it every day, plus their families.