DE - Gone is Ricky Sapp. Gone is Byron Clear, though he rarely played (24 snaps in '09). I'm counting Kevin Alexander as a SAM. Kourtnei Brown was a highly-rated recruit who was down the depth chart so far that they requested he take a RS year in 2009. He'll be a RS Junior this fall. DaQuan Bowers is back to solidify one End position, and I suspect Andre Branch and M. Goodman will fight for significant playing time and one will almost certainly lock the other starting end position down. Bowers would likely leave if he has a stellar year in 2010. DE is a position where you need to bring in talent every single year, so that you arent starting young guys, but nearly everyone will get snaps. Bowers, Branch, Goodman, and Brown should be the 2-deep. Darrell Smith is a reserve coming off a RS, and Traylor will never see the field (it is possible someone is moved to TE). We trade Clear for Brown, and bring in Corey Crawford to replace Sapp along with Tavaris Barnes. I think Clemson filled the need here at DE with enough lead time.
DT - We lose no one, which is awesome. Jenkins and Thompson are probably the best inside tandem in the conference, but Jenkins will be gone in 2011 with Miguel Chavis and Jamie Cumbie. Brandon Thompson is a true junior who I suspect will get serious flirtation from the NFL. In theory we could lose all 4. Rennie Moore is another RS Jr who played lightly (198 snaps). Tyler Shatley comes off a RS year and will step into the 3rd string rotation with Moore. I thought the lack of another player brought in last year would catch up to us in 2011, but Josh Watson might be that player. He got to play and work on things at Hargrave, which is better than sitting on the bench at CU and redshirting, though he could RS in 2010 with the guys ahead of him. So I think Clemson fixed a quibble of mine with last years class and added another prospect for NG in Tra Thomas. Thomas likely redshirts. You only need 4-5 men up front and we have 6-7 to play with in 2010. Tavaris Barnes could and eventually may be moved inside depending on future recruiting. Clemson filled their need at DT, but to lose all 4 up front would be gutting next winter.
LB - Steele's scheme uses the LBs in their traditional 4-3 roles, but we do play a multiple front system, so you could see anywhere between 2-4 on the field at once. We lose both SAM LB Alexander and WILL K. Conner. Tarik Rollins will transfer. Jeremy Campbell didnt play much (94 snaps) and is gone. Stanley Hunter had to quit. We return only MIKE Brandon Maye (RS Jr) from the starters, who I think should be moved to WILL backer now. I wouldnt be surprised to see him at MLB again though. Former starting SAM Scotty Cooper didnt play much, to my surprise, in 2009 (110 snaps). I expect to see more of him than that in the future, but he's really not the same guy after 2 knee surgeries and will be gone in 2011. I dont know who is better on the strongside though. Daniel Andrews played sparingly as a sophomore and will get on the field some, but I expect Corico Hawkins and Tig Willard to step up and play more. One of those two should start, Hawkins perhaps. Shuey has size at MIKE, which we do need, but he's coming off a RS as is Quan Christian (OLB). Another year of teaching will help these young guys, and they are talented. Still, the LB position was a crucial need exposed in 2009 and we brought in only Justin Parker, who could step in at somewhere, maybe Weakside, and play a couple hundred snaps. I doubt he redshirts. We basically lose 5 and gain 3 but numbers arent the issue at LB, where starters basically play a whole game. Jake won't ever play at Clemson I think. Ricky Chaney will probably redshirt, if he makes it in, and the coaches are slotting him at SS. I think Clemson dropped the ball here, we need another good LB, but they were in a spot when Jake had his stroke. Steele will need to earn his paycheck as a position coach with these youngsters, we're down on experience. This one is a critical case where Clemson should've taken a JUCO prospect. We must bring in 3 or 4 Linebackers in 2011.
Safety - DeAndre McDaniel and Rashard Hall are my picks for 1st team at SS/FS. I think both are All-Americans. I think Gilchrist gets moved back to Corner. We lose Sadat Chambers, big deal. Meeks should backup DMac at SS, and I'm going to project Spencer Adams to get on the field somewhere, probably behind Hall. This guy is so fast that its unbelievable, and if his knee is 100% I can't see how you dont get him on the field. We will lose DMac after 2010 and needed at least one S in, and we got 3 in Chaney, Breeland and Brown. We shouldn't lose anyone else but DMac unless Hall really shows out and declares. Chaney at SS, the other two might be Nickel or FS. Clemson filled the need at Safety.
CB - We lose two good corners in Butler and Chancellor. Some people didnt like Chancellor's man/man coverage skills but I think he was good, just not spectacular. We had a Top 10 pass defense folks, if he was awful he'd get picked on every down. Byron Maxwell will take one side, and I suspect Gilchrist the other. Sensabaugh, I'm not sure about....he's ok but I havent seen enough to judge. Xavier Brewer is another guy on the 2-deep. We lose 2 now, with GIlchrist a true senior in 2010, so 3 would be good, and we brought in 3. Jenkins will RS but he's fast. I think either Peters or Robinsion, maybe both, could be extremely good under Harbison's teaching. I think one of the two does RS. Clemson perfectly filled the need at Corner.
QB - Gone is Willy Korn. I'm not so sure Wade will stay at QB as play ST, but he contributes there. We should keep Parker another year with Boyd the backup in 2010. I don't think Parker is going to play MLB yet, maybe after 2010. I honestly think we're fine at QB for this year, and Jeff Scott says we'll take 2 QBs in 2011 cycle.
RB - A position were you must take one every year, and Clemson hasn't been taking enough. This is the #1 injury prone position on the field. Perhaps the greatest player ever at Clemson is gone, so there will be a dropoff, but I think Ellington and Harper will pick up his slack. Ellington hits a hole so hard that I think he'll end up being a better pure-RB (statistically) than CJ. Harper needs to get in better shape I believe, and get back that step he had in HS, but he's a power back to run out of the I-formation and he did come along this year. Clemson gets Rod McDowell off RS to give us a 3-deep. Perhaps Buice or Howard will avoid a RS, but the staff will try to keep them on it. I think we're set here. We lost one and got 2.
WR - Jacoby Ford is gone, along with all our receptions and passing stats. Dye, Ashe will be the starting 2 on the outside positions as Seniors. I do hope Jaron Brown or Clear step up and push both of them outside. Brandon Ford is a guy I could see moving to TE, but he's also in the mix outside. Marquan should've stepped up in 2009, and didnt. Bryce McNeal had to gain some weight and learn on a RS year. Basically none of these guys did a damn thing in 2009, so I'm not sure what to expect in 2010. I felt like we should've brought in another WR last year. We lose Jacoby now, bring in Bryant and Hopkins to play outside and Joe Craig as a slot. At least 1 should avoid a RS, but I doubt if 2 do. We should be OK numbers-wise here, but I'm concerned about the coach teaching them most of all.
TE - We FINALLY throw to the TE!....then we lose him. No more Palmer, who could catch as well as block. Durell Barry is gone, though he never really ran routes, and R. Taylor is gone at H. Dwayne Allen will be a starter and is gifted athletically, but I'm not impressed with his blocking whatsoever. Its because of this that we think we'll be running more spread and less pro-style formations next year, unless we just stick an OL over there to block. If Allen picks up blocking better then it should be about the same. We lose 3 and bring in Vic Beasley and Sam Cooper. Darrell Smith could, in theory, be moved to TE from DE. He would be a blocker. Phil Price could be moved over just as a blocker. The problem is the opponents will recognize the personnel and wont respect the pass threat with a pure blocker in there. Brandon Ford could be moved but he'd be another Allen, not a blocker. Cooper should RS, Beasley might be good enough to avoid it but he's also a receiver-type TE. Considering how much we used the TE this season, as a blocker and receiver, I believe the offense will change a little because we dont have the depth of personnel to block and catch. We can do one, not both. I think we will need another true blocking TE but numbers-wise we're borderline unless someone moves over. WHY does the staff not take a JUCO player to fill an immediate need?
OL - Starting LG Thomas Austin is gone, but Mason Cloy should step up in his place. Ken Page is gone. Cory Lambert is gone. JaMarcus Grant was gone and Barry Humphries transferred after NSD last year. Medlin we lost to a knee injury. JK Jay is unfortunately gone. All those guys were absent in 2009 anyway. OLine is one position where attrition and injury kills us, as you can see. The starting 5 would be Hairston, Cloy, Freeman, McClain (God help me), and Walker (unless he decides to take Spring off again like last year). 2nd team tackles would be Thomas and David Smith, unless Brad plays musical chairs again. Wilson Norris should push someone at Guard, and Matt Sanders would help out at G, Ben Ramsey is a senior backup Center. Price moved over from TE to Tackle but I bet he never plays much, none until he gets closer to 300lbs. We lose 7 total (counting everyone going back to last spring) and gain David Beasley and Kalon Davis at Guard, Reid Webster and Gifford Timothy at Tackle. We got B. Thomas off a RS. I bet 3 of these new OL end up redshirting. I think Smith could be a good backup to Walker, but Thomas is young and if Hairston goes down we're screwed, Smith would then move over to LT. I think Beasley avoids a RS, while Davis doesnt. Hairston would be the only loss I see coming in 2011. Clemson needed tackles and got 2, but should've gotten 1 or 2 more. We are still short-handed depth wise. We are going to need some tackles come 2011. If Clemson does not sign 3-4 linemen in 2011, I'm not going to be happy.
How do you evaluate the 2010 class from a NEED perspective?