Clemson released the post-spring depth chart for the football team Tuesday afternoon and it provides us with a few answers as well as a few questions. The depth chart gives us a chance to see what the coaches really thought of everyone and how they progressed through the spring.
The single most important thing to remember when looking at the depth chart is that this is not a predictive depth chart. And what I mean by that is this is not the coaching staff trying to predict a two-deep for our season opener against Auburn. Rather it is a depth chart for if Clemson had to play a football game tomorrow. Keeping that in mind should allay a few concerns, but it is still worth noting some of the surprises that we have seen.
Korrin Wiggins isn't fully healthy
As spring practice started we talked a lot about where Korrin Wiggins would line up. Ideally it seemed like Wiggins staying at NB would be the best for Clemson because it meant the coaches were confident enough in the safety position to leave Wiggins as a NB. Because of injuries that doesn't seem to have happened, but I don't think anyone was predicting Wiggins wouldn't even be in the 2-deep. Wiggins is listed at 3rd on depth chart at safety and NB, and reports from practice say he isn't healthy yet.
The good news is that Wiggins still has 3 months to heal and rehab his knee. But I caution everyone to keep your optimism in check. Knee injuries can be tricky and it might be several weeks into the season before Wiggins is even healthy enough to play, let alone be good enough to play quality football. Anyone assuming Wiggins will be ready to go is being extremely optimistic because we don't have enough information, but hopefully he'll be in good shape come August.
Mark Fields isn't there yet
Perhaps the biggest surprise on the depth chart is Mark Fields. The CB entered Clemson with a lot of hype, but an injury last fall coupled with some growing pains derailed his freshman year. Heading into spring most of us hoped he would be able to step up and claim Mackensie Alexander's old starting spot. So far that hasn't happened. Marcus Edmond is penciled in as the starter, shocking a lot of us. If you had told me Mark Fields wouldn't be the starter on the depth chart I would have assumed Ryan Carter would be the starter. This either means Carter isn't as good at field corner as he is at nickel, or just maybe Edmonds has really improved this spring. With CB being one of the two weak spots on the defense, you have to hope that it is the latter and that Fields can step up during the fall.
All aboard the Taylor Hearn Train.
Replacing OL is never easy. Even if you are an Alabama or Ohio State and have bunches of 5 star OL on the bench there will be some growing pains. Clemson had to replace 2 OL and it seems like they've found a LG in Taylor Hearn. His rise up the Clemson depth chart is one of the more surprising things to come out of spring. I remember hearing how he was doing well in practice and having a bit of a double take.
But Hearn seems to be entrenched as a starter and that should help settle the OL. Hearn is penciled in at LG with Mitch Hyatt and Jay Guillermo on either side of him. Those 3 should provide an excellent setup along the OL. With Tyrone Crowder at RG and Jake Fruhmorgen at RT the OL should be stable even if they don't excel as much as they did last year. As always depth will be a concern here with Maverick Morris as the only backup with any real experience.
Hello Clelin Ferrell
An interesting takeaway from spring practice was the use of Christian Wilkins at DE. The stud DT recruit has been a big favorite of ours and QuackingTiger mentioned multiple times that he could slide out to DE as needed. The question was just how often he would do it. Having to replace two starters at DE this year meant the coaching staff might need to experiment. Thankfully it looks like Wilkins will be able to stay at DT with Austin Bryant anchoring one side of the DL, and Clelin Ferrell opposite him.
When he signed with Clemson we mentioned that Ferrell might end up being the "surprise" of the class, and he's going to have a chance to prove it. Being named a starter already indicates the confidence of the staff in Ferrell, and if he can be a disruptive presence on the DL then Clemson could be in an excellent position. Oh and don't worry, Wilkins will still get some snaps at DE.
Excuse me while I take care of something
Our DT rotation is Christian Wilkins, Carlos Watkins, Scott Pagano, and Albert Huggins. Oh and we have Dexter Lawrence, don't worry, he will probably crack the 2-deep in fall camp. That is all.