TigerSource looks at the starters, the depth, the newcomers and the recruiting board at defensive end, perhaps the deepest and most talented position on the 2004 team.
Charles Bennett (6-4, 245) is entering his junior season and we think he will show the ability most thought he had coming out of high school. After his red shirt season, Bennett still needed to get bigger and stronger. He was moved to linebacker and played fairly well. But last season the staff moved Bennett back to his natural position of defensive end and the light came on. Bennett finished his sophomore season with some strong performances against FSU and Tennessee. The Peach bowl was a very impressive performance. Bennett kept his momentum by having a fantastic spring. Again we project the junior to have a very good season.
Mo Fountain (6-4, 250) enters his senior season as yet another Camden, SC starter at defensive end. Fountain is a team leader and a high character personality. He is also one of the most consistent performers on this team. Fountain is balanced as a defensive end in that he plays just as well against the run as he does as a pass rusher. Every team needs senior leadership and Fountain is one of those on this 2004 squad. He is another reason Clemson defensive line coach Ron West said the Tigers may have the best defensive ends in the ACC.
Gaines Adams (6-5, 250) shows flashes of brilliance. He is perhaps the top pass rusher at this position for the Tigers. Adams is perhaps the most athletic defensive end as well. He must continue to add strength and become consistent against the run. However, Adams' upside is unlimited. We think he will continue to grow into a dominant player in the next three years. His quickness will present a lot of problems for offensive tackles.
Vontrell Jamison (6-7, 280) is the best looking defensive end. Jamison came back to the defensive side of the ball last season and showed signs of dominance. Like Adams, he needs to become a better player against the run but can be a terrific pass rusher. His athletic 6-7 frame is a difficult match-up for offensive tackles. Jamison is also a candidate to move inside to defensive tackle.
Brandon Cannon (6-3, 255) improved in his freshman season and continues to push for more time at defensive end or potentially defensive tackle in the future. When the Tigers signed Cannon over Maryland the staff knew he was a couple of years away. Cannon's playing time will increase with his work ethic and desire. We think he still has a bunch of plays in him after this season.
Kwam Williams (6-3, 240) is a coach's dream. The staff says he is one of the hardest workers in the weight room and he is a terrific kid. Williams will move to his natural position and Clemson fans will love his effort. Clemson was his only major offer out of high school but running back coach Burton Burns knew of his high character and work ethic. Williams will be a fantastic defensive end in the future.
Akeem Robinson (6-5, 260) is listed as a tight end/defensive end out of high school. Clemson beat Florida on signing day and the staff was pleased to have this potential star. Robinson is one of the best looking physical specimens in this class. He already is developed and has great strength. We think he could play defensive end but could also move inside and play defensive tackle.
Xavier Littleberry (6-6, 245) is another player listed as a tight end/defensive end. He is a taller, athletic prospect that plays with a nasty streak. Littleberry will be a candidate at a couple of positions and should have a good future but this season may red shirt because of the depth at tight end and defensive end.
The Recruiting Board
Roderick Battle (6-3, 240) of Atlanta, GA is a player that had to impress coaches at spring practice and at camps because he only played two games last season. Battle transferred schools in his junior season from South Cobb to Douglass. However when schools came by in May the offers began to pour in. Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and Vandy have already offered with more to come. Clemson is in pretty good shape with Battle entering his senior season.
Justin Mincey (6-6, 265) of Folkston, GA is a prospect that some feel is one of the top five defensive ends in America. Last season Mincey had 87 tackles and nine sacks. "Recruiting is going well.," says Mincey. "I have been offered by Miami, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, USC, Notre Dame, Clemson, LSU, South Carolina and Virginia. Right now, I just want to stay wide open. I really don't have a top five or anything. I am giving every school that has offered me a fair shot. I may trim my list soon but I want to stay open for now."
Corey Moon (6-4, 235) of Decatur, GA has currently received offers from Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Alabama, North Carolina, Tulane, and Virginia. "My top five would be Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, and Virginia." He is looking forward to a big season building on his 140 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks from a year ago. "
Jonathan Hannah (6-5, 265) of Hope Mills, NC will be playing his first season at defensive end. Some schools are recruiting him for an interior linemen or tight end also. Hannah says, "I have received offers from Clemson, FSU, Penn St., Oklahoma, UNC, NC State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Tennessee. "When I went to the one day camp at Clemson, they surprised me by putting me at defensive end. I played offensive tackle last year, but I will play defensive end for my high school this season for the first time." This is a prospect that has the attention of nation powers like Oklahoma but don't look for him to go far from home. "Location is the biggest thing for me right now. I would love to play somewhere close to home, but ultimately I will have to go to the school that is the best fit for me."
These are just a few of the top prospects at defensive end on the Clemson board.
We think the staff will always sign big, tall bodies that can start out at tight end or defensive end and if they get bigger they can move inside. Look for that trend to continue this season.