The Clemson football defensive ends have the ability and talent to be elite this season, but they must grow up quickly as they take on bigger roles.
Losing Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant isn’t easy for Clemson football, but it helps that the Tigers have several talented players that have been patiently waiting their turn and are ready to perform at a high level.
The question is: Can they do it?
The defensive end group is one of the most interesting positional units to watch for Clemson football in spring practice. With the absence of Ferrell and Bryant, it’s going to be important that the Tigers have leaders who step up.
Here’s what to watch for in spring practice at the defensive end position.
What to watch for:
Clemson has several talented athletes at the defensive end position. The projected starters at the position are Justin Foster and Xavier Thomas.
Behind those guys are KJ Henry, Logan Rudolph, Justin Mascoll and several freshmen that could fill the depth chart.
The main guys garnering playing time, though, will be in that group of five named above.
The question is if those guys can provide the same level of play as what Ferrell and Bryant were producing. Can they learn to set a hard-edge and play their assignments defending run-pass option attacks? Can they get a quality pass-rush consistently to make opposing quarterbacks feel uncomfortable?
I’m really excited about seeing Xavier Thomas unleashed this season. He has the quickest first step out a stance I think I’ve ever seen in Clemson football. I think you’re going to see him have a big year. I’m interested to see if Foster, Mascott, Henry and Rudolph can also step up and have solid seasons for the Tigers.
This will be a fun position to watch. I expect a lot of development and for them to be much better than what the national media will give them credit for heading into the 2019 season.