Tiger corners don't lack for experience, could be a

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson cornerback Byron Maxwell says that he realizes the Tigers defense will be breaking in two new cornerbacks when the season opens in September. He also says it would be important for people to remember that doesn’t mean the positions have been left in the hands of the inexperienced.

In fact, Maxwell says, the entire defensive backfield is going to be downright “salty. “
Maxwell is expected to man one of the corner positions, while Marcus Gilchrist, who started at safety last season, is expected to move back to his natural corner position. Coty Sensabaugh and Xavier Brewer will provide depth, and Maxwell said he thinks all have a shot at being pretty good.

“We have two pretty experienced guys at corner, and then we have two really experienced guys at safety,” Maxwell said. “And then we have guys like Coty and Xavier, who have also played a lot. Everybody back there is pretty salty, and everybody is pretty good, too.”

Maxwell played in all 14 games last season, logging 311 snaps, but it was against Florida St. where he really made his mark – tallying a season-high 52 snaps and coming up with a crucial interception against the Seminoles, and he said that experience can only help him.

“All that experience just helps me hit the floor running,” Maxwell said. “It also helps me teach the younger guys some things, too. This spring, it allows me to work more on my technique – more of what the opposition is doing. How are their splits? What are they looking at? Things like that can really help me out.”

Secondary coach Charlie Harbison said before the start of spring practice that if he had one guy to match up on a physical wide receiver, like Georgia Tech’s Demaryius Thomas from last season, it would be Maxwell. Maxwell said, however, that the entire group is physical.

“I think we are physical, because everybody wants to hit and get in on the action,” he said. “Marcus played safety last season, and Xavier certainly won’t shy away from contact. Everybody wants in on the action. That is what we bring to this team.”

Gilchrist started all 14 games a year ago, and was actually second on the team in tackles with 107 in his 902 snaps. He didn’t register an interception, but did force three fumbles, and he said that while the Tigers will certainly miss Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler, the depth acquired last season will pay off in 2010.

“I feel like any time you lose two, three-year starters, it will look from the outside like it is going to be a big burden,” Gilchrist said. “But we had a lot of guys that contributed last year, and I feel like we have even more depth this season. I think all of us can say, too, that being in the system for a year, and gaining that experience, can only help, too.”

Gilchrist said he doesn’t care if he plays safety or corner this season – he just wants to be on the field.

“I am a defensive back and that is what I do,” he said. “I will play free safety, strong safety, boundary corner or field corner. I have always grown up believing that if you are a defensive back, then you can play all four positions. And our motto this season is to be the best all-around group in the nation – and that means getting interceptions and making tackles.”

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