Clemson is one of those teams that I am not sure where to rank. I am not sure anybody in the country had bigger losses than Clemson on offense. They lose all time great QB Tajh Boyd and his 11,904 career passing yards. Plus, WR super star Sammy Watkins and his 101 receptions in 2013 and his 240 career catches plus 3391 receiving yards. They also lose other top WR Martavius Bryant and his 42 receptions. Bryant was also a 6-5 clutch receiver.
Clemson also loses 1000 yard RB, Roderick McDowell. These guys will be missed and missed badly.
Frontrunner for the QB position should be last year’s back up and returning senior, Cole Stoudt (6-5,205). Stoudt has played a little in each of the last 3 years and probably deserves first shot at the starting job. I love a QB, or any player, that works hard and will stick around even though he’s not getting the playing time he deserves.
But, he is not without competition. Sophomore Chad Kelly (6-2,210) the nephew of Hall of Fame QB, Jim Kelly, is looking to land the starting job as well. Chad was injured in the Spring game a year ago, but he came back strong and still runs really well.
The third option could turn out to be the best option of all. Deshaun Watson (6-3,190) the #1 rated dual threat QB in the nation signed with the 2014 class and enrolled early. He is currently going through Spring Practice. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says he is the best player they have ever signed at QB. I will not argue that.
Watson has extremely quick feet and can make throws at full speed. From the videos I have seen it’s hard to tell how strong his arm is, but he appears to be a fairly accurate passer. Being involved with Spring Ball before his freshman season gives him a leg up. I do think Stoudt gets the early nod, but I am thinking the real battle will be between Kelly and Watson with the edge probably going to Watson.
Nick Schuessler (6-3,185) is a sophomore that played very sparingly.
Zac Brooks (6-1,185) and DJ Howard (5-11,195) will battle it out to replace McDowell. Brooks rushed for 246 yards and Howard added 213. CJ Davidson (5-11,185) is a junior that may play as well.
Wayne Gallman (6-1,195) was a highly recruited RB out of Georgia a year ago and had a redshirt season. The Tigers recruited really well this year and added 3 4 star RBs to the roster in Jae’lon Oglesby (5-11,175), CJ Fuller (5-10,205) and Adam Choice (5-9,195)
The RB position should be a team strength in the Fall.
Losing Sammy Watkins is a pretty big deal. They do return reliable senior Adam Humphries (5-11,190) and he hauled in 41 passes a year ago. Mike Williams (6-5,205) and Germone Hopper (6-0,175) had good freshmen seasons and combined for 43 catches. Charone Peake (6-3,200) had 25 receptions in 2012 but missed most of last season with an ACL tear and was given a medical redshirt.
The Tigers added 4 excellent WRs in this class that could help right away. Artavias Scott (5-11,180), Trevion Thompson ( (6-2,190), Demarre Kitt (6-0,195) and Kyrin Priester (6-1,190) are all highly rated and possibly the best class of WRs in the country.
Stanton Seckinger (6-4,230) returns at TE and had 21 catches and 4 TDs. Sam Cooper (6-5,250) is also back but they both may be pushed aside by sophomore Jordan Leggett (6-6,240). Incoming freshmen Milan Richard (6-3,230) and Cannon Smith (6-5,255) are 4 star guys that may need to redshirt.
Offensive Line returns 3 starters including LG David Beasley (6-4,315), C Ryan Norton (6-3,280) and RT Isaiah Battle (6-7,280)
Gifford Timothy (6-6,315) should take over at LT and Reid Webster (6-3,300) should move into the RG spot.
The Clemson Tiger defense is the exact opposite of the offense, they have most everyone returning. If not for Bashaud Breeland declaring for the NFL draft, the defense would look even better.
Clemson front four returns intact starting with the sack master, Vic Beasley (6-3,235). Beasley had a fantastic year in 2013 making 23 tackles for losses and 13 sacks. He is one of the top returning DEs in the country.
The other DE Corey Crawford (6-5,270) is no slouch finishing with 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Shaq Lawson (6-4,260) and Tavaris Barnes (6-4,275) are the best back ups in the country.
DJ Reader (6-3,335) and Grady Jarrett (6-1,290) are the best Defensive Tackle returning combination in the country. Jarrett had 59 tackles in 2013. Josh Watson (6-4,285) and DeShawn Williams (6-1,285) are outstanding back ups that finished with 21 tackles a piece last season.
Both OLBs are gone, which includes the top tackler Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian. MLB Stephone Anthony (6-2,245) was the team’s 2nd leading tackler last season. His back up should be Ben Boulware (6-1,230) and he was really good as a freshman last season.
TJ Burrell (5-11,220) should take over on the strong side and Tony Steward (6-1,235) on the weak side. Steward played a lot last season and had 21 tackles. Korie Rogers (6-1,210) and Chris Rogers (6-3,230) are 4 star recruits that might come in and be ready to play.
Front 7 for Clemson should be one of the tops in the country. The Tigers lost both Corners from last year, but they had good back ups. Safeties were young and talented.
Returning at the safety positions are Robert Smith (5-11,210) and Jayron Kearse (6-4,205). Kearse was a freshman last season and had 4 INTs and was 7th on the team in tackles. Smith was 3rd in tackles.
New corners should be Martin Jenkins (5-9,180) and Garry Peters (6-0,190). Both played a lot last season.
Clemson lost a lot of guys from 2013 on offense but they are not without talent and they still have the same coaches. They will have a hard time with FSU, again, but they should be competitive with everyone else and their defense should keep them in a lot of games. i am predicting a 9-3 regular season for the Tigers.