Clemson University

Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen competing to start

South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Hayden Hurst is brought down by Clemson Tigers cornerback Trayvon Mullen on a pass play in the first half at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC, Saturday, November 26, 2016.
South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Hayden Hurst is brought down by Clemson Tigers cornerback Trayvon Mullen on a pass play in the first half at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC, Saturday, November 26, 2016. gmelendez@thestate.com

The competition to replace Cordrea Tankersley as the Clemson football team’s boundary cornerback remains open.

Trayvon Mullen is trying to win that battle.

A four-star recruit out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mullen played 115 snaps as a freshman and appeared in all but two games, including the national championship game, on special teams.

Mullen didn’t see any playing time at cornerback in close games, but in the mind of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Mullen played “a lot” for a true freshman.

That experience put Mullen in position to compete for a starting spot as a sophomore.

“Going back to last year, me working, playing hard and just learning the system, I felt like coming in this spring, I’d be more prepared and ready to go out and just take advantage of the opportunity and get a chance to go out there and play,” Mullen said.

Mullen finished last season with 17 total tackles – most among true freshmen not named Dexter Lawrence – and one pass breakup.

Venables thought Mullen played well last season and was pleased with the cornerback’s progress during spring practice.

“He’s playing with a little bit better, cleaner technique,” Venables said. “Better positioning … Just a little bit more confidence, better overall technique.”

Mullen split first- and second-team reps at boundary cornerback this spring with Mark Fields, Ryan Carter and K’Von Wallace.

Clemson has big shoes to fill at the boundary cornerback position, where Tankersley started last year and Mackensie Alexander started for two years prior, but Mullen has the potential to be the Tigers’ next star in coverage.

Mullen currently measures in at 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds and believes he plays with the physicality and aggressiveness the boundary cornerback position demands.

“I feel like more of the action happens in the boundary, like more tackling, so you got to be able to tackle, be physical and aggressive and just be ready to play,” Mullen said.

Clemson’s coaches haven’t indicated who they expect to start at cornerback this fall, but Dabo Swinney feels good about the players he has at the position, including Mullen.

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