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Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, and Kendall Joseph will Return to Clemson for Senior Seasons

At least three of Clemson’s four Power Rangers will return to Death Valley in 2018.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

DE Clelin Ferrell, DE Austin Bryant, and LB Kendall Joseph will return to Clemson for their senior seasons. Christian Wilkins is still mulling over with his own decision.

Clemson has good depth at defense end with Richard Yeargin and Logan Rudolph expected to return from injuries, but getting back two NFL-caliber players means Clemson can expect another year of dominant and disruptive play up front. While getting both DEs back comes as a mild surprise, the return of LB Kendall Joseph was expected. He was excellent in 2017, shifting from MLB to WLB to replace Ben Boulware, but likely needs a final year of seasoning and film for NFL scouts.

Just a few weeks ago, most would have thought two if not all three of Clemson’s star juniors on the defensive line would be NFL-bound. So, how did this fortunate turn of events happen? According to David Hood at TigerNet the big reason none of these guys got 1st round grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee was that there are so many top-flight QBs coming out of college this year. NFL teams pursue “franchise” QBs with vigor, so even though these “Power Rangers” have first round talent, they may have gone lower than usual in this particular draft class. Now, we await a decision from Clemson’s last junior, the beloved Christian Wilkins.

On the recruiting side, Clemson has 14 available scholarships for 15 incoming freshmen. The additional slot(s) will come from transfer(s) and potentially an NFL declaration from Christian Wilkins.

2018 Scholarship Breakdown

# Departing Seniors # Stated Transfers # Stated Early Departures # Other Open Scholarships # Potential Early Departures # Potential Transfers
# Departing Seniors # Stated Transfers # Stated Early Departures # Other Open Scholarships # Potential Early Departures # Potential Transfers
1 DJ Greenlee 7 Amir Trapp 8 Taylor Hearn 12 Kaleb Bevelle 15 Christian Wilkins 16 QB
2 Maverick Morris 9 Ray-Ray McCloud 13 Kelby Bevelle 17 RB
3 Tyrone Crowder 10 Van Smith 14 Pat Godfrey 18 Other
4 Ryan Carter 11 Deon Cain
5 Marcus Edmond
6 Dorian O'Daniel

In addition to those listed above, two sophomores were awarded what we believe were just one-year scholarships: Kyle Cote and Ty Thomason. This would officially leave Clemson with one scholarship for a recruit to sign in February (plus scholarships from transfers and the potential departure of Wilkins), but we don’t know for sure if Cote and Thomason will be giving up their scholarships, nor do we know if Pat Godfrey (listed as a Redshirt Graduate but with 2 years of eligibility remaining) will keep his. Ferrell, Bryant, and Joseph staying for another year leaves very few opportunities for recruiting anyone new to the class of 2018. QT expects that a few more scholarships are going to open up and that the class will get to 18 or 19.

Overall, the Tigers were extremely fortunate with all the juniors they have who decided to return. While WR Deon Cain, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, LG Taylor Hearn, and S Van Smith declared for the NFL draft, CB Mark Fields, LT Mitch Hyatt and now LB Kendall Joseph, DE Austin Bryant, and DE Clelin Ferrell will return. This is close to a best case scenario. Should Wilkins decide to stay, it would be just that.

With Ferrell and Bryant back, Clemson will have the deepest and possibly most talented defensive end rotation in the nation. Likewise, the return of Kendall Joseph gives the Tigers incredible depth in their linebacking corps.

It is morphin time...