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 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 count all the walk-ons as being on scholarship for 2013. Fagjenbaum, Sobeski, and Catman are former walk-ons that are pretty definite as remaining on scholarship as ST contributors.
From the roster, you will see 11 graduating players, plus the likely loss of DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL. There are 6 walk-ons who we will not count at this time as definitely remaining on scholarship. That gives us 18 spots, for a possible maximum of 20-22 signees. You can almost guarantee the loss of 1-3 players in the offseason for various other reasons.
At QB, the situation is muddled but it is obvious that one of the backups will not be here much longer. Realistically you need 3 of them, but 5 is overkill. Tajh Boyd would be stupid to leave for the NFL at this point, but his backups are capable of playing somewhere. Cole Stoudt has been a competent #2 here, and I’d rather not lose him, but the kid can play somewhere if he wants to go. Chad Kelly was a hit in recruiting, though his maturity is something I’ve questioned since well before he signed the LOI. Tony McNeal (medical RS) is unlikely to ever start at QB here, Morgan Roberts is likewise. Do not be surprised if one transfers soon, and I hope one of them does.
At RB, Ellington leaves and Hot Rod finally put it together this year to claim #2. D.J. Howard has not progressed and if Zac Brooks puts on weight, he’ll be getting plenty of carries next season. Wayne Gallman will enter school as the bigger back that Chad Morris wants. It is put up or shut up time for Howard. I think he can play RB, but if he doesn’t lower those pads and bulk up, he needs to either move to CB or go somewhere else.
At TE, Ford leaves and it is apparent to me over the last few games of this season that we need a little more speed at TE along with a capable line blocker. Ford is not a line blocker, and he doesn’t have great moves. He just has good ball skills. Cooper has not impressed me with his receiving skills or speed, and is OK at line blocking, but could become a Palmer-type as a senior. Seckinger is not a line blocker by any stretch of the imagination. None of these guys should be forced out yet, but we need JJ McCullough to be able to play a dual-role as a flexed TE and line blocker.Along the Offensive Line, I’m hesitant to call for players to leave because they are still sophomores and RS sophs. Gifford Timothy is not the answer at RT. Reid Webster has not been able to push a converted DT and neither has Kalon Davis been able to really push an inconsistent David Beasley. I highly doubt Jerome Maybank ever plays, and if Region does not have that baby, he won’t be starting anywhere, much less Clemson.
Along the DL, I think Tra Thomas should be out of here already. He’s been passed by everyone on the roster. He’ll be a RS Junior in 2013 and yet true freshmen play over him. Thomas registered just 11 snaps. Rod Byers was a capable HS player at Northwestern, but he’s been passed by Reader and Watkins, logging in 54 snaps to their 229 and 110 respectively . He may need another year of development.
The rest of the DL is a mix, but none stand out to me as needing to move on. Tavaris Barnes marginally improved in 2012, but I’m skeptical of anything further. He certainly deserved to play over Goodman, but I now think he’s Maryland-Wake Forest caliber and not Clemson talent. Corey Crawford could be much better in a better S&C program and probably wasn’t ready to start this year.
Lateek Townsend is a talented player, but he’s been here 2 years and registered a total of 28 snaps aside from ST play this season. It appears Clemson has failed to develop yet another talent. Put up or shut up time. If he can’t grasp the defense enough to get him on the field in '13, get him out of here. Kellen Jones will come off his transfer year, Steward may finally be healthy, and both Christian and Shuey will compete for snaps with Anthony. Justin Parker comes off an injury-induced RS, and if he can’t pick up enough to be serviceable he should be gone. BJ Goodson is still just a RS Freshman, but logged 22 snaps, hardly enough to be worthwhile for him. He'll get more PT next season. Corico went from an outrageous 700+ snaps to 157 in 2012, and is graduating. Personally I think Clemson has too many LBs on scholarship.
If you want to get to the next level, its time to make tough choices for the program.