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2022 Clemson Football Season Review: Defensive Tackle

Defensive tackle was the strongest position of the defense.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Capital One Orange Bowl Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Clemson defensive tackles were the deepest and most talented position group of the entire defense this year. The stats back this up as the DTs were the backbone that allowed Clemson to end the year 10th in team sacks, 7th in team TFL, 13th in rush defense. Despite injuries and missed games by Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis, there was very little drop off when the backups came in. Clemson had 6 DTs play in at least 10 games this year. With the return of Tyler Davis and Ruke Orhorhoro along with the players coming into the program, next year’s group should be just as formidable.

Tyler Davis (#13)

Tyler Davis was once again the rock of the DT position. He played 495 snaps over 12 games and made the most of his opportunities with 27 tackles (9.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. This production earned him 1st team All-ACC selection and 2nd team All-American honors from FWAA and Phil Steele. Davis made the surprising decision to return to Clemson for his last year of eligibility. Davis makes everyone around him better and having him back to anchor the DL is going to make Goodwin’s job a little easier next year.

Bryan Bresee (#11)

Bryan Bresee went through a tough time this year. Not only did he have to suffer the tragic passing his sister, he also came down with an illness that kept him out of a few games mid-season. Once he returned he had to work to get himself back into FB shape and his numbers suffered due to this, understandably. Despite all of the setbacks he persevered and put together a solid season. He ended the year playing 329 snaps and recorded 16 tackles (5.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups. It can never be said that Bresee’s motor wasn’t always in full gear and he gave his all every time he stepped on the field.

Bryan made the decision to enter the NFL draft and his talent and measurables alone ensure that he will be taken in the early rounds. We wish him and his family all of the best and he will always be a Clemson Tiger.

Ruke Orhorhoro (#33)

Ruke was a revelation this year. He’s always been a solid backup and showed his potential last year when he stepped in for the injured Bresee. This year he seemed to take another step forward in his development. He logged 495 snaps, started 9 of the 14 games this year, and received 3rd team All ACC honors. He is credited with 28 tackles (8.0 for loss), 4.0 sacks, five pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He played so well that many believed he would take the leap and enter the NFL draft. Like Tyler Davis, he instead decided to run it back one more time with his teammates. This gives Clemson two high caliber starters at the DT position and it can’t be understated how important that is given the players who have decided to move on with their careers.

Payton Page (#55)

Payton Page playing sparingly in 2021, 76 snaps. He nearly tripled that production by playing 213 snaps this year and was fairly productive in those snaps with 14 tackles (3.5 for loss), a pass breakup, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal. He has turned into a solid backup in his 2nd year and will continue to improve next year as we can expect his snap count to eclipse over 300.

Demonte Capehart (#19)

Demonte Capehart was highly regarded out of high school but only played a combined 40 snaps his first two years in the program. This is due to a combination of battling injuries and being lost in the shuffle at a very deep position. He finally looked healthy this year and his snap count grew to 83. He had 13 tackles (2.0 for loss) and at times looked immovable in the middle. Like Page, we should expect his snaps to continue to grow next year. Should they not, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him enter the portal given the depth of talent at DT coming in the 2022 recruiting class.

Tre Williams (#8)

Tre Williams continues to be a player full of potential just waiting to manifest itself. Last year, he battelled shoulder and foot injuries but still logged 243 snaps. In 2022 he was credited with eight tackles (1.5 for loss), a sack and a fumble recovery in 142 snaps. Like Capehart, he shows flashes of a great player but so far hasn’t been able to reach that potential. He’s going into his 4th year with the program and his opportunities are going to begin to grow fewer and farther between. The return of Ruke and Davis combined with the three highly rated DTs signed in this latest class needs to light a fire under him to become the dominant player he can be and carve out his role in at the position next year.