CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Cade Klubnik figures to be a major part of that future, whether this year or beyond.
Cade Klubnik figures to be a major part of that future, whether this year or beyond.

Clemson makes top-5 of ESPN 'Future Power Rankings'


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ESPN put a bow on its peer into the next three seasons of college football and the teams that will compete for championships on Tuesday ($). Clemson is expected to be very much in that mix.

Dabo Swinney's Tigers checked in at No. 5 on the list, trailing Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Texas A&M. Clemson was No. 2 in the ranking last year.

Clemson's lowest future rankings come on the offensive side at QB (17) and offense overall (13), with the strength coming in a No. 1-ranked defense.

"I struggled where to slot Clemson after a disappointing 2021 season and heavy transition on coach Dabo Swinney's staff," ESPN's Adam Rittenberg said. "The Tigers won 10 games last fall but struggled mightily on offense, finishing 82nd nationally in scoring (26.3 ppg). Longtime playcaller Tony Elliott departed to lead Virginia, and Swinney promoted longtime quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter as his replacement. If Streeter generates improvement with quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei -- or true freshman Cade Klubnik, ESPN's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback and No. 28 overall recruit for 2022 -- and gets the offense back on track, Clemson should return to the annual CFP mix...

"Clemson doesn't necessarily need to be a top-5 offense to challenge for championships again. The outlook on defense is simply that good, even though longtime coordinator Brent Venables will be missed. The Tigers have maintained their stockpile along the defensive line, and could feature the nation's best front in 2022 as All-America candidates Bryan Bresee, Tyler Davis and Myles Murphy return, alongside veterans Xavier Thomas, K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll, and others. A drop-off in 2023 is possible, but Clemson's track record suggests otherwise."

Other teams of note include Nov. 5 road opponent Notre Dame at No. 6, Brent Venables and Oklahoma at No. 7, Miami at No. 11 and NC State at No. 20.

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