While the 2020 Clemson football roster is the most talented roster the Tigers have ever had, that does not mean there are not important battles to watch this summer/fall.
With the exception of a few positions, Clemson football is going to be very young at some key spots as they work toward the season kickoff against Georgia Tech the first week of September. With as much talent as the Tigers have, these battles will be fun to watch and could take into the season.
Heading into 2019, the biggest battles the Tigers had was upfront on the defensive line. No one knew until the starting lineups were being broadcast in the stadium on the board that freshman defensive tackle Tyler Davis had won his position battle.
As we know, it worked out well for Clemson and Davis showed everyone why he was able to win the battle for the job vacated by Dexter Lawrence.
There are going to be some very intense battles, which means very tough decisions will have to be made.
Mike Jones Jr.vs Trenton Simpson
Heading into the summer, Mike Jones Jr. has the lead over the 5-star Simpson. The redshirt sophomore has played in 18 games and taken 196 snaps over his first two years for Clemson football.
Linebackers are asked to do a lot by defensive coordinator Brent Venables, which can make it very difficult to play early on for him on defense. However, the Tigers have not had a player quite like Simpson coming out of high school at the linebacker position.
At 6’3 225-pounds, Simpson is also not your typical freshman either. Enrolling early and being able to start spring practice as well as weightlifting will help Simpson battle Jones at the SLB spot.
Lyn-J Dixon vs Demarkcus Bowman
Clemson football coaches swear that all positions are re-earned as a new season begins. If that is the case, junior running back Lyn-J Dixon will have to earn his back-up role to Travis Etienne once again, this time the competition is much greater than Darien Rencher, Chez Mellusi and Michel Dukes.
Not to take anything away from any of those players, they are talented on the field and leaders off of it but the running back class of Kobe Pryor and Demarkcus Bowman is one of the most talented duos the Tigers have ever signed in one class at running back.
If Bowman can pick up the important nuances that coach Tony Elliott requires out of his backs in order to see the field, he will beat out Dixon for that backup running back spot that landed in his lap last season after Tavien Feaster decided to transfer.
Taisun Phommachanh vs D.J. Uiagalelei
The backup quarterback spot is going to be the position that most Clemson football fans with anticipation this summer.
The coaches have publicly stated how much they love both Taisun Phommachanh and D.J. Uiagalelei and believe that they could win with both in 2020 if they needed to. (Hopefully, that does not become reality)
Uiagalelei was obviously the more coveted recruit coming out of high school, being a 5-star quarterback, but Phommachanh has been in Clemson now for two full years and has a great understanding of the playbook as well as what offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is trying to accomplish from a game-planning perspective.
Coach Swinney has said several times that Uiagalelei’s arm strength is unmatched but how quickly he can pick up concepts of the college game and understand what he is seeing will ultimately determine how much he plays as a freshman in 2020.
There is no doubt we will see both this season, but I have a feeling the coaching staff my limit Uiagalelei to four games and redshirt him.