CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Clemson ranked No. 1 in new ESPN 'too early' rankings

Clemson ranked No. 1 in new ESPN 'too early' rankings


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A month of NFL draft decisions and Signing Day picks has Clemson still at the top of college football according to ESPN.

"The defending national champion Tigers lost a boatload of star players to the NFL draft," ESPN's Mark Schlabach writes, "but they still might have the easiest path to return to the College Football Playoff for a fifth straight season.

"Clemson's offense should again be explosive, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, tailback Travis Etienne and receiver Justyn Ross returning. The Tigers will have to rebuild their stout defensive front and replace two starting linebackers.

"Clemson coach Dabo Swinney's ability to keep his coaching staff intact is a big reason the Tigers will annually stay in the CFP mix. The Tigers will have three assistants -- co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott and defensive coordinator Brent Venables -- earning more than $1 million in 2019."

ESPN's top-five is filled out by Alabama at No. 2, then Oklahoma (previously No. 6), Georgia (previously No. 3) and Ohio State (previously No. 4).

Clemson opponents check in at No. 11 (Texas A&M) and No. 15 (Syracuse).

Former Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson and Northwestern are ranked No. 19. Missouri, home of QB transfer Kelly Bryant, fell out of ESPN's top-25.

First 'too early' rankings

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