- Ryan Wooden Diehards
The Clemson Tigers are coming off their third consecutive College Football Playoff appearance and just signed the No. 6 recruiting class in the country, so one of the most competitive programs in college football has become even more so for 2018.
That often means that there’s going to be some necessary upheaval on the depth chart during the offseason as hungry incoming freshmen look to chase down established veterans. For the veterans, the options are usually relatively simple.
You either raise your level of play to meet the intensity of the oncomers or you relinquish your spot. So let’s take a look at a few veterans who should be extremely motivated in the spring and summer by incoming recruits.
This is the simplest one of the bunch. Kelly Bryant played well but not excellently in his first season as the starter and Clemson already brought in mega-recruit Trevor Lawrence.
The consensus No. 1 overall recruit in the country also happens to be one of the best quarterbacking prospects of the generation and the expectation is that he could be ready to play right away. And he’s already on campus so he’s going to have the chance to master the playbook this spring and compete in the summer.
Bryant is the safe option to get Clemson back to the College Football Playoff, but if Lawrence shows off the incredible arm talent that bought him all that hype in the first place, he might be the risk that buys the Tigers another title.
If you started the season today, there’s a decent chance that Diondre Overton would slate in as a starter (though it’d be a three-way battle between himself, Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers for two spots alongside Hunter Renfrow). However, Clemson has some absolute studs in the Class of 2018.
In a small 17-player class, the Tigers signed two elite wide receiver prospects in Derion Kendrick and Justyn Ross.
Kendrick is a 5-star with dynamic playmaking ability and decent size at 6-foot-1 and 184 pounds. Plus, he’s already on campus. Meanwhile, Ross is a 4-star with the more prototypical 6-foot-4, 201-pound frame and he’ll arrive in the summer.
Both players are Top 50 prospects and both will vie for early playing time. And while everybody is fairly enamored with Higgins and Rodgers’ upside after contributing as true freshman, Overton is an incoming junior with 16 catches in two seasons.
Mark Fields played a complementary role in the Clemson secondary last season, but with Ryan Carter gone to graduation he figured to see plenty of additional reps. However, the Tigers brought in two long, athletic cornerbacks that they think are game ready in the Class of 2018.
Kyler McMichael is a 6-foot-1, 201-pound 4-star prospect while Mario Goodrich is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound 4-star. And both will hope that their length gives them the advantage over the smaller (5-foot-10) Fields when they get to campus in the summer.
The good news for Fields is that things could have been much worse. Clemson pursued both of American Heritage’s 5-star cornerbacks (Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain, Jr.) hard, but ultimately saw them sign with Georgia and Alabama, respectively.
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