Quick Pre-Camp Assessment--The DBs

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 24: Chris Thompson #23 of the Florida State Seminoles is tackled by Rashard Hall #31 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

We continue to discuss thoughts prior to the meat of camp. Today we'll look at the defensive backs. Like the other coaches/positions, we reviewed Coach Cheese and his functional group following last season. Clemson's biggest loss from a year ago was Coty Sensabaugh. Coty improved steadily over last season to become an effective and skilled player at the corner position.

Robinson and Breeland will start fall drills as the cornerback starters with Cortez Davis and Martin Jenkins as backups. Darius Robinson has the skills to play and play a lot but needs more snaps/experience. Breeland really excited the coaches through Spring and we expect him to play a large part in this defensive season. We need to point out that we also expect quality snaps out of Jenkins and want to see the staff rotate him in more than one season ago. We'll also point out that we would like to see the staff try to get Davis reps at the free safety role, especially if he isn't getting significant playing time at corner.

Jonathan Meeks will see a lot of time at the strong safety position and Xavier Brewer at free safety-both there obviously because there are questions about Rashard Hall and either could be replaced by Hall if healthy. Garry Peters is the last name on the safety list and, unless we see vast improvement from spring, see the same playing time this fall as last.

Assuming that Rashard Hall is recovered, he will take one of those spots. His recovery is a huge wildcard, as many players would have shut it down last season following a severe knee injury suffered early in the '11 campaign. This will be one player we specifically watch as we really hope that Hall's surgery and offseason rehab will have him back to pre-injury form. We spoke very highly of his play in '09 and '10 and think that this young man will play on the next level if he can rehab and return to the level of play early in his career.

Meeks really frustrated us last season. He looked confused most of the time, was out of position, and never wrapped up when he tackled. We'll look to see if he realizes he can use another tactic other than the flying headbutt to bring offensive players to the ground.

We fully expect to see true freshman Travis Blanks on the field this fall. He is just too good to be on the sidelines. Venables is content to bring him up to speed relatively slowly, breaking him in at the nickel role. Blanks may have been the most talented recruit of the '12 cycle and will be a stud here once he gets more comfortable with the college game and the Venables defense.

Clemson absolutely has to get better play out of these guys this season. Our safety play last year was less than stellar, mostly because of Hall's injury and Meeks' struggles. Unfortunately, I don't think that the Tiger defensive line is going to be much help to this group, particularly with their inexperience. That means there will be more pressure on the defensive backs because opposing quarterbacks will have more time to throw. They will be required to play closer to the line of scrimmage to assist in run support. Consequently, coaching decisions will be key, particularly early on as the Tigers gain experience both up front and in the secondary.

As you can see, this group needs folks to return to form following offseason surgery, youngsters to contribute, and improvement from players who contributed a year ago.

Here is a complete list of the Clemson defensive backs going into camp:

No.

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Class

5

Jonathan Meeks

S

6-1

210

Sr.

9

Xavier Brewer

DB

5-11

190

Gr.

11

Travis Blanks

S

6-0

195

Fr.

14

Martin Jenkins

CB

5-9

175

Jr.

15

Ronald Geohaghan

DB

6-0

185

Fr.

17

Bashaud Breeland

CB

6-0

185

RSo.

21

Darius Robinson

CB

5-10

170

Jr.

25

C.J. Jones

CB

6-0

180

RJr.

26

Garry Peters

DB

6-0

190

RSo.

27

Robert Smith

S

5-10

210

So.

29

Cortez Davis

CB

6-2

195

RFr.

31

Rashard Hall

S

6-1

210

Gr.

36

Jerrodd Williams

S

6-0

205

RJr.

37

Dante Stewart

CB

5-8

185

RSo.

47

Taylor Watson

S

5-10

195

RSo.

49

Beau Brown

S

6-0

200

RFr.

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