2011 Clemson Pre-Camp DB Analysis

Clemson's defensive backfield was bitten hard by the graduation bug, losing Marcus Gilchrist, Byron Maxwell, and DeAndre McDaniel.  These losses will be significant, moreso than some realize.  McDaniel was an All-American his junior year and brought a lot of leadership to the defense in addition to his hard-hitting and overall playmaking ability from the safety position. He didnt have an awesome year this year, and stunk it up against Miami (when he shouldnt have been playing anyway), but he was a great player. Gilchrist did a little of everything for this defense and his versatility will be missed even moreso than DMac.  Maxwell provided decent run support but did struggle in some coverage scenarios. Here is a complete look at how we graded out the DB's and Coach Cheese following the 2010 campaign.

Coaching Perspective

It is nothing new to you that we are big fans of Charlie Harbison here at STS.  Harbison, who has done a fine job for the Tigers, will most likely see a step back in the CU secondary, particularly early in the year.  The Tigers lost five critical players here in the past two seasons and have to replace one of the best Clemson safeties in quite a while.  The secondary will also play behind a defensive line that lost Jarvis Jenkins and Da'Quan Bowers to the NFL.  Everyone knows that a secondary's best friend is a great defensive line, and we won't be as dominant there this season as last.

Coach Cheese has been consistent in post-Spring and Summer interviews.  Harbison pretty much committed to giving all his DB's playing time early.  He stresses in-game performance and aggression on defense.  Coach Cheese repeatedly talks about his players earning time and that no one gets a free ride no matter results from previous seasons.  This assures that players who produce in game situations are on the field AND that quality snaps are taken by the entire unit.  Having more quality snaps for more players allows the coaches to rotate more players through the secondary and gives everyone more confidence if a "reserve" is pressed into action for some reason or another.

The Players and their Positions

The safety spots will be filled by Meeks and Hall.  Hall had an excellent freshman campaign followed up with a decent second season, because he was used a bit differently (more Money position and in Man coverage). Meeks played in all 13 games last year and should be comfortable with gameplay.  These guys are the leaders of this secondary and Coach Harbison will depend on them to be the on-field generals. We think Hall should get back to at least All-ACC status.

Gilchrist will be replaced at CB/Nickel/Money/Star/FS with a combination of Sensabaugh, Brewer, and Jenkins.  This shows you how versatile Gilchrist really was for this defense.  It also indicates that we may see much more substitution on defense for situational plays.  Brewer will likely start at the corner spot and most likely start the year featured in the Star/Nickel role early on, with Jenkins potentially pushing for more PT at Star.  Sensabaugh will start at the other corner.

Breeland was a popular name around the Clemson campus this spring. The Allendale freshman used last season to redshirt and the coaches are excited about seeing him in action this fall.  Despite his size and initial roster classification at FS, Bashaud will see playing time early on at the corner position thanks to his Man coverage skills.  He is currently slated for participation in Nickel situations when Brewer slides into the Star position.  He will likely flirt with some snaps at the safety position before his career is over, just not early in '11.

Martin Jenkins and Darius Robinson both saw playing time in 2010, so we expect they'll see the field early.  We argued before that Robinson probably would have redshirted in '10 had Brewer been a little more consistent earlier in the year. Given the small number of snaps he ended up with, he probably should've.  Garry Peters took a redshirt in '10 and was inconsistent throughout the Spring.  We know he has the talent to contribute but need to see more reliability during camp and through the first couple games.

Of the newcomers, only Cortez Davis is likely to avoid a redshirt.  He will start out at the corner position. At 6'3", Davis is extremely big for a corner.  He picks up the ball well in the air but will need to work on the physical portion of his game and master some basic footwork fundamentals to see significant PT this season. 

Returning DB's

#

Player

Pos.

Hgt.

Wgt.

Cl.

Exp.

Hometown

HS/JC

5

Jonathan Meeks

S

6-1

205

Jr.

2VL

Rock Hill, SC

Rock Hill HS

9

Spencer Adams

CB

6-2

185

*Jr.

2VL

Charlotte, NC

David W. Butler HS

14

Martin Jenkins

DB

5-10

170

So.

1VL

Roswell, GA

Centennial HS

15

Coty Sensabaugh

CB

6-0

180

*Sr.

3VL

Kingsport, TN

Dobyns-Bennett HS

17

Bashaud Breeland

S

6-0

190

*Fr.

RS

Allendale, SC

Allendale-Fairfax HS

21

Darius Robinson

CB

5-10

165

So.

1VL

College Park, GA

Westlake HS

25

C.J. Jones

CB

6-0

170

*So.

SQ

Lincolnton, GA

Lincoln County HS

29

Xavier Brewer

CB

5-11

190

*Jr.

2VL

Jacksonville, FL

Bartram Trail HS

31

Rashard Hall

S

6-2

200

*Jr.

2VL

Saint Augustine, FL

Saint Augustine HS

32

Carlton Lewis

S

6-3

215

*Jr.

2VL

Saint Augustine, FL

Saint Augustine HS

35

Mansa Joseph

CB/RB

5-11

205

*Sr.

1VL

Salters, SC

C.E. Murray HS

37

Kantrell Brown

S

6-1

195

*Sr.

3VL

Saint Matthews, SC

Calhoun County HS

38

Garry Peters

CB

6-0

185

*Fr.

RS

Conyers, GA

Heritage HS

45

Desmond Brown

S

6-0

180

*Fr.

RS

Centre, AL

Cherokee County HS

47

Dante Stewart

CB

5-10

180

*Fr.

RS

Swansea, SC

Calhoun County HS

Incoming Freshmen DB's

NAME

Position

Hometown

High School

Ht/Wt/40

Rivals Rating

Assigned Recruiter(s)

Class

Cortez Davis

DB

Daytona Beach, FL

Mainland

6'3"/200/NA

4 stars

Chris Rumph, Charlie Harbison, Jeff Scott

2011

Adam Humphries

DB

Roebuck, SC

Dorman

5'11"/176/4.5

2 stars

Jeff Scott 

2011

Robert Smith

SS

Dorchester, SC

Woodland

5'10"/200/4.6

3 stars

Dan Brooks 

2011

 

Our position review noted who we think will play the most this year, but the CB position is going to be in flux this season. Out of the gate, Xavier Brewer will have one locked up and Sensabaugh might start out at the other. However, Breeland's skills caught our eye this spring and we also expect big things from the others we signed last cycle. Darius Robinson and Garry Peters were both bigtime recruits, and between these three, I don't see Coty keeping his job. Cortez could get redshirted just because of that depth, but we don't quite see it. He would get moved over to Safety if a CB spot doesn't look to open. Brewer might be used more at Nickelback as the season progresses (better to match up a smaller guy with smaller slot WRs) and as the freshmen get their sea legs. Expect at least one of them to take a CB spot and another to challenge for the other.

However, we caution you to expect growing pains from this group, particularly early this year. When you play M2M coverage like we do, the stats page can look pretty garish. We'll just have to see who improves the quickest. Be thankful we don't play in a heavy-passing league like the Big 12.

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