Clemson's offense returns a bevy of star players with QB Deshaun Watson, RB Wayne Gallman, WRs Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, LT Mitch Hyatt, and TE Jordan Leggett all returning. The defense however loses five starting juniors to the NFL draft with three of them (T.J. Green, Jayron Kearse, and Mackensie Alexander) coming out of the secondary. That's why Cordrea Tankersley's Monday announcement (according to TigerNet) that he will return for his senior season is critical for the Tigers.
Tankersley played opposite Mackensie Alexander, a likely first round draft pick in this year's NFL draft, and therefore was often tested as QBs avoided Alexander. Tankersley responded by intercepting five passes including a breathtaking steal in the ACC Championship game. With Alexander gone, he'll have a opportunity to go against the opposition's #1 wide receivers and prove that he is worthy of an early draft pick. His decision should help his draft status and isn't totally unexpected, but because he was the last to decide, some may have been at least a little concerned.
The Tigers are likely to be ranked in the top four of preseason polls and this decision should make fans feel much more comfortable with their ability to hold onto that ranking deep into the year. With Dexter Lawrence, Tre Lamar, and Rahshaun Smith joining the front seven next year and "Tootie" anchoring the secondary, there is good reason for optimism.