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Big Boy Football: Roster Management 2012

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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 4 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. Therefore, many won't like this discussion.

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. Rulebreakers get second and third chances here over the years, but at major programs that extra chance is not a given. Some get by with pushing players onto medical 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 its 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 its 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 don't update the Scholarship roster throughout the season, but this is the final version from August. The only one missing is Fajgenbaum, who we heard somehow got a scholarship as the long snapper via Catman's twitter account in August. We don't know who went off to put him on.

Clemson currently has 16 guys leaving, with Buice, Desmond Brown, and McNeal already gone. Dwayne Allen will likely go to the NFL. There have been numerous musings that Ellington would go, but I do not think anymore that he would or should. He needs to work on his pass receiving to make it in the NFL. We'll say we have 20 spots open, then the possibility of a walk-on scholarship coming open (if Fajgenbaum is on). Clemson currently sits at 20 recruits, and is actively pursuing several more. Even allowing for the likelihood of Josh Brown and Javarius Leamon going Prep/JUCO, there may not be enough spots for the ones we sign. We'll have to push some out via transfer or outright dismissal for "violation of team rules" if they screw up at all.

At QB, we'll have Boyd and Stoudt of course in '12. We have Tony McNeal on RS with Morgan Roberts. Chad Kelly is coming in. That's a lot of youth, and one will eventually leave. It obviously won't be Boyd. I find it unlikely that the staff would nudge a RS or true freshman out the door without any development time, but the 3rd string battle with Chad Kelly will determine who stays and who transfers away. I don't think Kelly is an automatic RS. You don't need 5 of them either. Three plus a walk-on emergency will do, because the odds are that no one behind 2nd string will ever play in a season. My gut says McNeal eventually leaves CU, because I do think he's capable of winning somewhere, but I'd be a bit surprised if it happened this offseason.

At RB, we have AE first, Howard 2nd. We may or may not have Bellamy, who would be 2nd team if he got his shit together. I'm not going to fault Dabo for kicking him off outright, but I do hope Mike gets his head screwed back on and plays here. Roderick McDowell is 4th and is a RS Junior. I thought he could do it when we signed him from Sumter, but I was wrong. He hasn't shown much promise since Christian gave him a concussion, and I doubt he ever does here. I'd encourage him to look elsewhere so we could take another RB.

Brandon Ford will take Allen's spot as a flexed TE in most sets, and Cooper got some PT this year as a line TE. MacLain will push for time as well, and I'd imagine JJ McCullough gets a RS. The player they passed is Darrell Smith, another of Dabo's Bama boys who isn't going to pan out here.

Joe Craig took a RS last year, and is physically underdeveloped. He needs a good S&C program. I expected him to use his great open field speed to make a few plays this year, but has been outrecruited....even passed by Adam Humphries. His off-the-field trouble was blown up by the press, some of it erroneously (thus the reason why Dabo let him stay), and we hear that the girl involved was kicked out of Oklahoma State (where she was before CU) for a similar altercation. No beat writer would confirm that (we asked, and they hadn't bothered to follow up on it) or whether she was still at CU now or was expelled totally by CU, though we heard the latter happened. I would not push a RS Frosh out, but if he doesnt produce next season he should try to play elsewhere.

Looking at the production at WR, one could imagine another freshman deciding to leave. Beating Watkins and Hopkins out for a starting spot will be impossible next year. Jaron Brown will return. Germone Hopper will push hard enough that we may not be able to RS him. Unfortunately the ball only goes around so many times, and we've got several who are very highly rated. It will be tough to keep them happy, and I would not be surprised if this is a reason why another transfers.

Matt Sanders was browbeaten by Brad Scott during his time here, and we believe he has thought of quitting many times. He stuck with it, but will graduate and should give up his extra year of eligibility. He will not contribute here at OG or Center. The rest of the players up front are too young to make a call on at this point.

There are no other Juniors who I could see leaving school earlier. The rest is on youngsters that are difficult to make a call on.

At DT, we have a few guys who aren't taking redshirts but still aren't playing. Some got passed on the depth chart. Tavaris Barnes was a steal from FSU, a DE who we knew would grow into a DT. He hasn't put on the weight yet. I think he should stay, but he has to produce either at DE or DT. We're adding too many off RS and recruits. Shatley still can't move his feet, but he isn't going anywhere and will be on the 2-deep at NG. Youngsters Josh Watson, who had a year of Hargrave too, and Tra Thomas have already been passed by true freshmen Grady Jarrett and DeShawn Williams. Maybank and Rod Byers will come off RS, and with Watkins, maybe DJ Reader, Dodd and (possibly) Brown, we've got a lot of guys for what is usually a 5-man rotation at DT. T. Thomas has had attitude "discussions" with the staff. We think Watson and Thomas should leave.

Vic Beasley is a unique case of a great athlete who has no position. He played more defense in HS, and was recruited by Auburn for OLB. He picked Clemson to play TE, but wasn't cutting it there. He got moved back to play Bandit DE/Jack LB, but he doesn't have the weight to play the position in a 4-man front. He's not going to pass Willard outright next season, or Corey Crawford at Bandit. I hope Vic stays here, puts on the weight and excels, but one has to think the thought of transfer has crossed his mind.

Justin Parker was a guy we all wanted at LB last year. He played in 2010 and should not have done so, and didn't play much this season either, even after Steele said "the light came on" in Spring ball. Considering Steele's obvious predilection to play the starters and rarely any backups, along with the fact that he's behind Christian at SAM (who is rarely on the field anyway since we play more Nickel), one also has to think he may decide to transfer.

Spencer Shuey is too slow to play MLB here outside of goal line situations, but contributes on ST. Colton Walls is listed at LB, but I think he either ends up a ST guy or Fullback. At one position he could contribute, but given our pitiful use of Diehl this year I doubt he would at FB. I doubt either of those two leaves CU.

I don't think its at all fair to point out young guys who haven't had much chance yet, but theres your names for who may need to look around. You're not going to keep 40-something freshmen/RSs that we currently have on the roster for 4 years. Some have been passed due to themselves, and some outrecruited. If you want to get to the next level, its time to make tough choices for the program.

(Now don't go losing your damn mind asking "OMG IS ____ GONNA TRANSFER?" everywhere)