The Clemson Tigers return 16 starters from a team that has been to three consecutive College Football Playoffs in a row in 2018 so, at first glance, you might not see an enormous need for the addition of graduate transfers to pad the roster.
However, it’s become such a potentially program-changing element to the sport that you always have to be on the lookout for talent that can provide immediate experience and depth in the places it is needed most. And Clemson does happen to have a need for experience in a few key areas.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three potential graduate transfers that could help Clemson in 2018.
Hawaii wide receiver Dylan Collie
Dylan Collie is the younger brother of former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie and he’s been a valuable piece for the Hawaii offense in each of the last three seasons. As a slot receiver, he could help replace what RayRay McCloud leaves behind in the slot.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver caught 118 passes for 1,300 yards and 9 touchdowns in 3 seasons with the Rainbow Warriors after originally transferring away from BYU, where both Austin and his other older brother Zac starred. He’ll graduate in May and be able to play immediately after announcing he’d transfer last month.
Collie isn’t a particularly dynamic athlete, but he can provide some reliability in the slot. The only issue is that he may be too similar to Hunter Renfrow, who has already proven himself against ACC competition with 137 catches in three years. At the worst, though, he could provide some experience and depth at a position where Clemson has plenty of talent but not a lot of experience.
Rice offensive lineman Calvin Anderson
Calvin Anderson is going to be one of the most highly-coveted graduate transfers of all this season after starting the past three seasons at Rice and impressing the analytics community with his pass-blocking skills. He announced that he’d leave early in January and has already attracted interest from Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Auburn and Michigan.
However, Clemson might be too late to the party on Anderson as he has already named his finalists and taken a number of visits. And Anderson would also have to be interested in moving to guard with Mitch Hyatt and Sean Pollard returning at tackle.
But the reason why there could be interest is that there are two starting roles open at guard and he’d have an opportunity to showcase some positional versatility for NFL scouts for a College Football Playoff contender in a Power Five conference. That could speak to Anderson if Clemson tries to get involved late.
Illinois safety Patrick Nelson
After two seasons as a key piece in Lovie Smith’s defense at Illinois, Patrick Nelson will graduate in the spring and seek to transfer according to a report from Jeremy Werner of IlliniInquirer.com. And he could be a great addition for Clemson after proving himself in the Big Ten.
Nelson recorded 140 tackles and 5 tackles for loss as a big (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and physical box safety. He could have a similar impact as part of Clemson’s rotation at the position in 2018 and he’s got two years of eligibility remaining.
Even if he can’t best returning starter K’Von Wallace at strong safety, he can add valuable depth and could likely be a big-time contributor on special teams for Clemson if they choose to get involved.
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