Now that all of Clemson’s commits have signed their letters of intent, along with a surprises in the trenches, it is time to take another look at where Clemson stands with the positional numbers and total scholarships.
A quick reminder, Clemson does not have to be at 85 scholarships until the start of the season. It is ok to be under or over 85 scholarships right now, what matters is getting to 85 during fall camp.
With that said, coming into the early signing period Clemson had 84 players on scholarship after Kelly Bryant decided to transfer in September. Clemson also has 19 players listed as seniors giving the Tigers 20 available scholarships right now. With 27 players signing today that gets Clemson to 92 players on scholarship.
Below is a breakdown of the current scholarship numbers with only the seniors removed from the roster. We’ll talk a bit later about early departures and where Clemson may try to make up some numbers.
QB - 4 (0): Clemson is still a bit thin here, but given what the Tigers are doing in the class of 2020 with DJ Uiagalelei and other fallback options this isn’t a big concern right now.
RB - 6 (0): Adam Choice moves on, but the rest of this group is young, strong, and talented. Clemson has more than enough RBs and can likely survive an early departure or transfer out of this group. The one concern is that 2 of the RBs are walk-ons promoted to scholarships, but Thomason and Rencher supposedly have some talent even if it can’t match Etienne’s.
WR - 11 (0): Clemson is losing Hunter Renfrow and Trevion Thompson but adding 3 studs. #WRU is continuing to reload. One thing I’m not sure about with this number is if Will Swinney will keep his scholarship next year. Dabo tends to have underclassmen keep the scholarships, but with numbers at the position as well as previous history it is possible Clemson gets a free scholarship here.
TE - 5 (1): At TE the big question is going to be if Garrett Williams returns or enters the military. But with the departure of Milan Richard there is going to be more than a few opportunities for younger guys to step up and be a key player in this offense.
OL - 15 (0): Right now Clemson is thin, even with the commitments of Bentley and Putnam. QT has mentioned before that Dabo wants to stick to 15 OL which most of us here really disagree with. Yes, Clemson is at that target number, but with 5 OL graduating after the 2019 season taking a 4th OL in this class could help reduce the stress on the class of 2020 if the staff can’t get 5 OL committed.
DT - 7 (1): So let’s talk about the elephant in the room, Dexter Lawrence. Barring something crazy he’s leaving, so that gives Clemson 7 DTs without much experience. The good news is that Tyler Davis committing should help alleviate some problems since he can step into the 2-deep.
DE - 9 (1): The good news for Clemson is that DE should continue to be a strength for Clemson. And if a certain DE actually is undecided about the NFL and decides to stay? Well the defensive line should be much better than we expect.
LB - 12 (1): We are losing a few LBs and gaining a lot of them. Even when you look at how Clemson uses a 3rd LB/NB rotation 12 LBs is a lot. Tre Lamar leaving early would alleviate some of the pressure, but Clemson is going to be set at LB for awhile.
CB - 8 (1): Like safety, the cornerback position is in pretty good shape right now. Trayvon Mullen will be a candidate for an early departure to the NFL, but even then Clemson will have some depth here.
S - 10 (0): It is fair to say Clemson has fixed the depth at safety issue this year. Clemson’s going to have enough safeties to play cover 4 with 4 safeties next year. Even if there is a surprise transfer or departure the Tigers will be fine here.
ST - 5 (0): I’m never going to be upset about spending scholarships on special teams, and given how some guys have panned out it makes sense we’ve offered a few more guys than normal, usually you only see 3-4 guys on scholarship for ST. But that’s fine and something we can work around.
So right now Clemson has to get down 7 scholarships. Right now there are 5 obvious candidates for leaving before their eligibility has been exhausted. That would get Clemson to 86 scholarships, assuming the staff doesn’t pursue anyone else between now and National Signing Day in February. From a raw numbers perspective Clemson is in a good spot and should be able to absorb any departures without having to offer spots to more walk-ons. Historically Clemson has lost 4-6 players each offseason, though last year saw 13 players depart. It is very possible Clemson gets below 85 with ease or has plenty of room to spare.
As for those walk-ons, it is worth noting Clemson has offered 7 non special teams players scholarships as former walk-ons. Most of these have come from needing to get to 85 players each year. The “exception” to that would be putting Ben Batson on scholarship at QB where depth is lacking. I’d also expect the special teams guys, Spence and Phibbs, to keep theirs just because of the unique positions they hold. That leaves 4 scholarships that could easily be used should Clemson see less turnover than expected or they manage to sign more than 1-2 guys in February.