A lot of people are going to react poorly to articles on this subject because they feel that anyone who chooses Clemson should be given his four years to play and make a difference, or that anyone who chooses Clemson becomes divine by donning the Orange. Unfortunately, serious programs don't follow that mold. You cannot win football games with players who don't play, and you only get 85 spots. This year we're looking at guys with another question in mind, "Can this player help us defeat FSU?."
We do not support throwing off guys out of malice. However, major programs make it clear, in one way or another, that dead weight can't be retained. Rule-breakers have been given second and third chances here over the years, but at major programs that extra chance is not necessarily given. Some get by with pushing players onto medical hardship exemptions. Some outright tell guys who don't have a chance to contribute that they should go elsewhere for a chance at PT. It needs to be made clear, whether done tactfully or under another guise. If you want to win the big games, then guys who are passed on the depth chart need to look around. We need to fill our spots with youth that may contribute later.
I think it is pretty easy to see, by looking at the scholarship roster and the depth chart, along with the snap totals, who will make a difference in the near future and who should think about going somewhere else. Most folks seem dumbfounded when a player is suggested as needing to transfer, especially through orange-tinted glasses, but it is not hard to figure out. We don't put those glasses on here too often, so we'll take a look at who should think about going elsewhere to finish his career in football and a few who we think have to be at least considering it.
We published the final scholarship roster after learning of the walk-ons who were given scholarships in August. Recall that you must be at 85 roster scholarship players, or you will lose that scholarship for one year, so if you’re under 85 recruited players come August, you have to give the rest out. They are only good for a year, so we are not going to necessarily count the walk-ons, though we expect CJ Davidson and Michael Sobeski to retain theirs for 2014. Taylor Watson did not garner enough snaps in our eyes to have his renewed.
From the roster, you will see 10 graduating players along with the NFL defection of at least Sammy Watkins. There remains the possibility that Beasley and Bryant will go pro, though we do not believe either is ready.
At QB the situation is in flux with Cole Stoudt the likely winner in Spring ball, along with Chad Kelly and incoming early-enrollee Deshaun Watson. The question will be who we can hold on to at the spot by August. If Watson isn't redshirted, which we believe he should, then he could beat out one of the two in front of him, meaning one of the two in front of him will transfer. You cannot hold on to talented backup QBs. I figure Cole would stay, but if Watson beats Kelly outright, even for the #2 spot, then Kelly is going to leave, and we're going to have a big hole at backup QB for '15 if that is the case.
RB is the key offensive spot where there are extra players. Our opinion on a RB recruit is that either he has "it" or he doesn't. Not much in terms of ability comes from Tony Elliott's coaching. We'll have 5 players with Adam Choice, Oglesby and Fuller as signees. Fuller is unlikely to qualify and Oglesby is going to come down to the wire for admission, and Choice, who plays more QB in his HS option, will be a definite enrollee. This is too many. I do not believe Howard is going to get significant carries at Clemson in 2014. I predicted the same last winter, and it proved to be correct. He has been injury prone and hasn't improved on the promise he showed as a freshman. I think he can succeed somewhere, just not here. I'm not sure we can say much different about CJ Davidson, but I see enough promise that I'd prefer not to lose him.
At TE we may have a numbers surplus, but I think we can win with Cooper if he puts the work in blocking and becoming a better receiver. Seckinger must likewise or he will get passed by Leggett.
At Tackle, we lose Thomas and Timothy, but its time for Joe Gore to put it together. He's been plagued by bad knees since he got here, but with Timothy out we need a capable RT immediately. It is also time for MacLain to step up and push for snaps. If they cannot garner significant snaps as RS Juniors then one needs to go.
At Guard we all know who needs to be shown the door. Jerome Maybank and Spencer Region. I felt that Maybank should never have been offered, but we gave Dan Brooks a pass because he has money in the bank. From the snap chart this year, you can see what they think of his ability. Region had good film and a nasty streak, but it hasn't materialized here and he has yet to reshape his body. Both of these guys need to go.
At DE/DT, there are a few of interest. I stand by my thoughts last season about Barnes. He's Maryland-NCST-level talent, but he is a solid player and does what he's supposed to do. That is good enough for me. Rod Byers was a DE from Northwestern HS who we stole from Oregon's clutches on signing day. I personally felt he was worth the offer after seeing him play, but I believe now that he has been outrecruited at the position. With Beasley possibly leaving, he could turn into at best another Barnes, but he won't pass Crawford, Barnes or Lawson at the two DE spots. Dodd could possibly have played much more this year if he had not been injured. He will seek a medical waiver for this past season. However, with a year of prep and another RS, it may be put up or shut up time. I don't see him beating out anyone at the 3-technique this fall if he is moved inside, and I don't see him beating those mentioned above at DE.
The back-end of the defense is too full of youngsters to make a definite call, since so few logged serious snap totals in 2013. Goodson, Steward, and Jones have their opportunity with Shuey and Christian graduating. I think all are capable but we shall see who wants it. There are a few I am looking closely at for the DB position, such as Geohaghan and Tankersley, but they have ample time to improve and become good players here.
If we are going to compete with FSU, its time for tough choices to be made. We can't win with players who don't play.