The Critical Reserve: Post spring depth chart raises questions


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Chris Register could earn playing time at defensive end
Chris Register could earn playing time at defensive end

Clemson’s football coaching staff released the post-spring depth chart Friday, and when you look at the first team there were no surprises. In fact, the depth chart looks like the one we wrote about at the end of spring practice.

However, to tell the story of Clemson’s football team and to look ahead at what the 2015 season might hold you have to go beyond the starters and look at the players listed as second and third on the depth chart. We already know you have to be seriously deep to make a run, and while the Tigers have the numbers and the talent, they will be young at several positions where depth will be a must.

The starters? They will be ok and I can’t imagine that any of the starting spots (except at safety where T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 205
Sylacauga, AL

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and Jadar JohnsonJadar Johnson
Jr. Defensive Back
#18 6-0, 200
Orangeburg, SC

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are battling and at the corner spot opposite Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS So. Cornerback
#2 5-10, 190
Immokalee, FL

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) will really be up for grabs.

Clemson’s two-deep features eight starters who are seniors, 11 who are juniors and five who are sophomores. No freshmen are listed as starters, but eight are listed as backups, including four on the offensive line.

Clemson has 11 returning starters, seven on offense, three on defense and one on special teams. This is the fewest total returning starters Clemson has had since the 2007 season when the Tigers also had 11.
This is the fewest returning defensive starters Clemson has had since the 1979 team, Danny FordDanny Ford
Former Head Coach
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’s first full season, had just three.

Clemson has just 43 returning lettermen, 22 on offense, 20 on defense and one on special teams. This is the fewest returning lettermen Clemson has had since the 2003 season when that team also had 43 returning lettermen.

While Clemson has just 10 returning starters from the offensive and defensive units combined, the 22 starters listed on the depth chart include 20 players who have started at least one game. Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
Taylors, SC

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and Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
Jr. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 195
Beech Island, SC

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are the only starters listed on the two-deep who have never started a game.
The 11 players listed as starters on offense have combined to start 93 games. Center Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Sr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 285
Simpsonville, SC

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has started the most among the returning players with 24 starts.

All 11 of the players listed as starters on offense played at least 200 plays last year. Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Offensive Tackle (2012 - 2015)
#79 6-7, 290
Brooklyn, NY

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played the most with 824 and Tyrone CrowderTyrone Crowder
RS So. Offensive Guard
#55 6-2, 330
Marston, NC

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played the fewest among the first team players with 203.

The players listed as starters on defense have combined to start 47 games. Eight of the 11 played at least 200 snaps last year.

So where are the hot spots to watch as we head into the summer and the beginning of fall camp in two months? It starts on the line. Both of them.

Freshman Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Line
#75 6-6, 270
Sugar Hill, GA

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is listed as the backup to Isaiah Battle at left tackle, Taylor HearnTaylor Hearn
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#51 6-4, 325
Williston, SC

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as the backup to Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#78 6-4, 305
Hope Mills, NC

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at left guard, Justin FalcinelliJustin Falcinelli
RS Fr. Offensive Tackle
#50 6-3, 305
Middleton, MD

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as the backup to center Ryan Norton and Jake FruhmorgenJake Fruhmorgen
Fr. Offensive Line
#63 6-5, 285
Tampa, FL

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as the backup to right tackle Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-5, 290
Lake Waccamaw, NC

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. We know that offensive linemen are prone to injury, and it isn’t hard to envision two of the youngsters starting at some point during the season. If three are starting, things have gone horribly and terribly wrong. The good news for the offensive line is that center Jay GuillermoJay Guillermo
RS Jr. Center
#57 6-3, 310
Maryville, TN

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is returning to campus in June, and he can provide depth at the center and guard spots if needed.

On the defensive line, freshman Richard YearginRichard Yeargin
RS Fr. Defensive End
#49 6-4, 225
Lauderdale Lakes, FL

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is listed as the backup to Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
So. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 269
Central, SC

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at one defensive end spot, and converted linebacker Chris RegisterChris Register
RS Fr. Outside Linebacker
#45 6-2, 245
Browns Summit, NC

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is listed as a co-second team defensive end (along with Martin AikenMartin Aiken
RS Jr. Defensive End
#53 6-2, 255
Smoaks, SC

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) behind Kevin Dodd. That’s two players who have never played a down of college football that will be counted on to provide quality snaps. They will have to grow up and grow up quick.

The top four defensive tackle spots seem to be set, but don’t count out freshman Christian WilkinsChristian Wilkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
# 6-5, 305
Longmeadow, CT

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coming onto campus and playing well enough to earn playing time.

At linebacker, freshman Kendall JosephKendall Joseph
RS Fr. Linebacker
#34 5-11, 225
Belton, SC

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is listed as the backup to starting MIKE linebacker B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS Sr. Linebacker
#44 6-0, 240
Lamar, SC

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and freshman Korie RogersKorie Rogers
RS Fr. Outside Linebacker
#43 6-2, 235
Buford, GA

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is listed as the backup to Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
Jr. Outside Linebacker
#10 6-0, 235
Anderson, SC

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at the WILL linebacker spot. The good news is that the secondary brings back a ton of experience and shouldn’t have to count on freshmen unless Mark FieldsMark Fields
Fr. Cornerback
# 5-10, 185
Cornelius, NC

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comes in and tries to take a corner spot.

Back to the offense – Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-2, 195
Durham, NC

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is another freshman who will have to contribute at wide receiver, but we won’t know how many freshmen will have to play at the wide receiver position until Ray-Ray McCloudRay-Ray McCloud
Fr. Wide Receiver
# 5-9, 175
Land O' Lakes, FL

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and Deon CainDeon Cain
Fr. Wide Receiver
# 6-1, 190
Tampa, FL

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arrive on campus.

The Tigers are talented. The Tigers are also young at a lot of key spots. The story of the 2015 season might not be about Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 205
Gainesville, GA

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or some veteran – the story might be if the kids can help enough to keep Clemson in the national picture all season.

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