QB DESHAUN WATSON / Nick Schuessler
Mid-year enrollees Kelly Bryant (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and Tucker Israel (5-11, 190) impressed when it came to absorbing the playbook and progressing on the field. Given a healthy campaign for Heisman contender Deshaun Watson, however, only one will play after how junior and former walk-on Nick Schuessler performed in the spring.
RB WAYNE GALLMAN / Tyshon Dye
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Wayne Gallman being No. 1 out of the spring is no surprise; he averaged 95 rushing yards per game in the final six contests last season (also scoring three of his four touchdowns). The rotation is shaping up how position coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott likes: a stable of backs with a go-to option in the clutch. Finally healthy, both Zac Brooks and Tyshon Dye are players to watch.
TE JORDAN LEGGETT / Stanton Seckinger
Productive spring work hasn’t been an issue for Jordan Leggett, it’s the part between now and January that’s been the issue. The goal is having one multi-purpose athlete to take most of the snaps. Leggett could fit the bill, but senior Stanton Seckinger has experience and a knack for the end zone. Redshirts Milan Richard (6-2, 245) and Cannon Smith (6-4, 240) will need to gain experience of their own.
WR MIKE WILLIAMS / Trevion Thompson
WR CHARONE PEAKE / Germone Hopper
WR ARTAVIS SCOTT / Germone Hopper
Talent and versatility lines one of the top receiver corps in the nation. Incoming freshmen Ray-Ray McCloud (5-9, 175) and Deon Cain (6-1, 190) will have a spot somewhere, while if Germone Hopper can turn his big spring into a strong offseason, he should see some time at a couple positions.
LT ISAIAH BATTLE / Mitch Hyatt
LG ERIC MAC LAIN / Noah Green
C RYAN NORTON / Justin Falcinelli
RG TYRONE CROWDER / Taylor Hearn
RT JOE GORE / Jake Fruhmorgen
With Jay Guillermo out of the mix this spring, there never seemed to be a true position battle, although all of the incoming talent is pushing competition. While Isaiah Battle and Ryan Norton bring experience, expected starters Eric Mac Lain, Tyrone Crowder and Joe Gore all have something to prove. Impressive in the spring game, nobody will be surprised to see five-star mid-year Mitch Hyatt get his fair share of playing time, but he worked as an heir-apparent left tackle this spring.
PK AMMON LAKIP
The rising senior made it through the spring without the hint of a competition.
KR ARTAVIS SCOTT / T.J. Green
Scott was an accomplished returner at East Lake (Fla.), but he had one try last season (19 yards against South Carolina). He and Hopper are working to add some life to a kick return game that hasn’t cracked the top-80 nationally since Sammy Watkins’ freshman season (2011).
DE SHAQ LAWSON / Richard Yeargin
DE KEVIN DODD / TBD
After contributing in a reserve role the past couple seasons, it’s Shaq Lawson’s time to shine. He has 21 career tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, registering 14 QB pressures in 632 snaps (one start against Louisville). Beyond Lawson, there might not be spot on the roster that provides more opportunity for underclassmen. Four-star products Richard Yeargin and Albert Huggins already are on campus – and top talents arriving in the summer will get a chance to prove themselves in August.
DT D.J. READER / Scott Pagano
DT CARLOS WATKINS / Christian Wilkins
Vets D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins figure to hold down a number of snaps this season, but Clemson’s philosophy is to rotate frequently on the interior. That means it’s highly rated prospect Scott Pagano’s chance to step out of the shadows (54 snaps played last season, 10 tackles). Also working to move up on the interior are senior Rod Byers (played TE late last season) and sophomore Dane Rogers.
SLB/Nickel KORRIN WIGGINS / Dorian O’Daniel
MLB B.J. GOODSON / Kendall Joseph
WLB BEN BOULWARE / Korie Rogers
The leadership is overhauled, replacing two former five-star prospects in Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward, but B.J. Goodson (at Mike) and Ben Boulware (at Will) have been around the program and made plays. Their backups, redshirt freshmen Kendall Joseph and Korie Rogers respectively, have earned plenty of praise from Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Venables also said the position is an injury away from being a “liability,” given the relative inexperience.
CB MACKENSIE ALEXANDER / Marcus Edmond
CB CORDREA TANKERSLEY / Adrian Baker
Venables handicapped the CB competition outside of freshman All-American Mackensie Alexander with descriptions of “some length,” “some speed” and “some toughness there.” It’s also on the ground floor in terms of experience from starter favorite Cordrea Tankersley (158 career snaps) on down. Ryan Carter has had a ton of buzz in the past month-plus and mixed it up in the spring game.
SS JADAR JOHNSON / Korrin Wiggins
FS JAYRON KEARSE / T.J. Green
Clemson had some interesting schemes with safeties last season, so it’s no surprise they have a lot of quality options competing on the back-end of the secondary. Jayron Kearse is a defensive leader and an All-ACC contender with two seasons of starting experience under his belt. Also working free safety are T.J. Green, who filled in at strong safety last season, and redshirt standout Jefferie Gibson. Jadar Johnson, Korrin Wiggins and early enrollee Van Smith worked at strong safety, per Johnson.
P ANDY TEASDALL
Replacing Bradley Pinion is no small task, but junior Andy Teasdall is the man going into the 2015 season. He averaged 41.4 yards per punt with a long of 47 in the spring game. Freshman Hunter Renfrow was said to have a strong spring, but he didn’t fare as well in the final exhibition (33.4 ypp.).
PR ARTAVIS SCOTT / Germone Hopper
Both Scott and Hopper showed glimpses of what they can do with ‘live’ punts in the Orange and White game. In recent years, Clemson hasn’t had much punch here, opting for safety over big-play threat. Scott seems like an ideal candidate, but with him also balancing a bigger role on offense, Hopper could get his chance to stand out.