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2016 Clemson Football Defensive Tackle Participation

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NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As is tradition at STS, we are once again taking a look at the participation numbers for each player at Clemson during the 2016 season. While number of games played is a nice top level number, looking at snap counts provides a much better idea of how much experience a player is getting. It is also a good way of determining if a player should have redshirted or not. Ideally, a player should get at least 100 snaps in a season as a freshman, otherwise a redshirt would have been a better idea barring issues with depth. Also note that all snap counts are through the Ohio State game; totals for the Alabama game have not been published by Clemson.

Once again the DT position performed well for Clemson. Despite “losing” Christian Wilkins from the group, the DTs performed extremely well this year. Freshman phenom Dexter Lawrence stepped up in a huge way. It probably isn’t an exaggeration to say that without his performance in 2016 Clemson does not win a national title. Like the defensive ends, the tackles had 4 players consistently playing.

DT Snaps

Player Position Year Auburn Troy SC State Georgia Tech Louisville Boston College NC State FSU Syracuse Pittsburgh Wake Forest South Carolina Virginia Tech Ohio State Totals
Player Position Year Auburn Troy SC State Georgia Tech Louisville Boston College NC State FSU Syracuse Pittsburgh Wake Forest South Carolina Virginia Tech Ohio State Totals
Carlos Watkins DT R Senior 56 44 12 37 76 48 63 63 36 65 50 36 73 41 700
Dexter Lawrence DT Freshman 37 41 20 40 67 40 51 39 35 61 38 21 69 35 594
Scott Pagano DT R Junior 31 28 19 24 41 26 25 28 24 9 0 0 0 22 277
Albert Huggins DT Sophomore 0 16 36 15 23 26 12 3 21 6 13 29 7 11 218
Jabril Robinson DT R Sophomore 0 0 19 0 0 11 0 0 21 0 6 7 0 1 65
Sterling Johnson DT R Freshman 0 0 17 0 0 0 0 0 9 0 0 20 0 0 46
Kaleb Bevelle DT R Junior 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7 0 0 14

The big question for eveyone is how Clemson replaces Carlos Watkins. The answer is already on the team. Christian Wilkins will return to DT after spending the season out wide. It won’t be a surprise to see Wilkins and Lawrence as the two starters at DT. Just go ahead and ponder that for a moment.

Behind them Albert Huggins is definitely going to be one of the backups. He did well in limited action, but he’s going to need to step up in 2017. Huggins arrived at Clemson with a lot of promise, but he’s yet to fully realize that potential.

The big problem is who takes that second backup spot. Sterling Johnson and Jabril Robinson are the next two up, but it is hard to say if either of them is going to be able to put it together enough to get 200+ snaps. Other than those two the only other candidate for backup time is redshirt freshman Nyles Pinckeny.

It isn’t hyperbole to say that Clemson has a real issue in terms of bodies at DT. There are only 6 scholarship players which is a real problem. The departure of Scott Pagano has an affect, but there should still have been another DT or two on the roster. Should anyone get injured in 2017 there could be lasting repercussions on Clemson’s defense in 2017.

The chart below shows just how much Clemson is going to have to replace at DT. While the past 2 seasons have had similar and even worse losses, there has always been some talent waiting. Right now it is hard to see where the depth comes from, especially if there are any injuries.