Spring Report Card: Defensive Tackles

by - Correspondent -

Despite losing Eric Coleman, Clemson's defensive tackles seem to have not missed a beat. Once again, this is an area where multiple bodies are being called upon to get the job done. Defensive line coach Ron West could rotate as many as six tackles come this fall.

Senior Trey Tate has the most playing experience of the group. Tate did not have a great year in 2004. He was seemingly overmatched for much of the year with the lowpoint at Virginia, where he was dismantled by Elton Brown. Tate has shown improvement, but he still has a way to go. The sense of urgency should be profound for Tate this summer, because experience is not going to keep him on the field.

Senior Cory Groover had a stellar spring. Groover may be the most talented of the defensive tackles on the team. His motor and mouth never stop running. Groover earned his spot on the first team this spring. He was able to open up lanes for the blitzing linebackers and disrupt plays in the backfield. He is expected to fully recover from a gunshot wound suffered last weekend to his leg.

Senior Donnell Clark just will not stop fighting. Every year people expect Clark's number of snaps to go down, and he continues to prove people wrong. Clark has a drive that you would like to see rub off on more of his teammates. He started along side Groover in the Orange and White game. Clark is not the biggest nor the most talented player, but he finds a way to get the job. Clark is much like David Dunham, the coaches know that he will go out there and do his job and not let his teammates down.

Sophomore Chris McDuffie has the biggest upside of any tackle on the team. At 6-5 310 lbs, the Tigers could really use his beef up front. He still needs more experience, and he needs to become a little tougher. If he is able to stay on track, this could be an impact year for McDuffie.

Redshirt freshman Dorrell Scott and true freshman Jacquez McKissic are candidates to see the field this season. They showed this spring that they can provide the depth at tackle that was missing last season. McKissic will start out at tackle, but on the field he looks like he could play outside. With his running ability, he could even be a future candidate at bandit.

This spring the benefits from Coach David Blackwell's recruiting strategies were starting to show off their benefits. The big bodies are starting to make an impact on both sides of the ball. This is the deepest group of defensive tackles Clemson has had under Tommy Bowden's tenure.

Grade: B

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