Clemson football: Three true freshman that will have the biggest impact in 2021

The 2021 Clemson football recruiting class is the deepest under Dabo Swinney.

With a quick glance, the 2021 Clemson football class lacks the “pop” that previous classes have had as it did not include the nation’s top quarterback. In football, that seems to be the barometer from which we judge recruiting classes as fans.

Given the fact that Clemson has signed the nation’s top high school quarterback in three of the last five classes, that is understandable. If you are scratching your head as to who those three were – Hunter Johnson in 2017, Trevor Lawrence in 2018, and DJ Uiagalelei in 2020.

The 2021 class quarterback, Bubba Chandler, is rated as a three-star recruit and the 18th best quarterback in the country, but if you do not know the story behind him, it is quite intriguing.

He was originally committed to play college baseball at UGA for more than a year. He had no college football offers and was not ranked or rated by a single college football recruiting service – until he was offered by Clemson football. He then took off like a rover Mars spaceship.

However, this class is loaded beyond quarterback and there are three freshmen that will make a big impact on the 2021 Clemson football team.

Ryan Linthicum – Center

Ryan Linthicum has been committed for quite some time. He is rated as the fourth-best center in the country and is a Top 230 player nationally.

In case you did not know, he attended the same high school as 2020 signee Bryan Bresee and seems to have just as nasty as an attitude on the field.

With 2020 starter Cade Stewart opting to retire from football instead of returning to Clemson football for another year, there is a void that Linthicum can fill right away.

He will battle sophomores Mason Trotter and Hunter Rayburn for the playing time in front of starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, but he is already enrolled and already going through matt drills and will participate in spring practice.

Trotter saw 147 snaps in 2020 while Rayburn played just 47 snaps. Neither has a whole lot more experience and this competition will be wide open.

Barrett Carter – Linebacker

Barrett Carter comes to Clemson as one of three five-star signees in the 2021 class – offensive tackle Tristan Leigh and running back Will Shipley are the other two.

Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables is notoriously hard on his linebackers, this is a big reason that we rarely see true freshman garner a lot of playing time at this spot – though Trenton Simpson was able to earn his trust as the season went on in 2020.

Baylon Spector, Simpson, and sixth-year senior James Skalski will be the first team linebackers to start the 2020 season. However, don’t expect Carter to sit on the sidelines for long.

After the way that Ohio State abused the Clemson football defense in New Orleans, one thing became clear the defense has to get more athletic than what Spector, Skalski, and Kane Patterson can provide. Carter and sophomore LaVonta Bentley will see a lot of playing time and don’t be surprised if at some point those two, along with Simpson are your starting linebackers.

Yes, Skalski is a veteran but Simpson, Bentley, and Carter are far better athletes and that is something that Clemson football will need in 2021.

Tristan Leigh – offensive tackle

Tristan Leigh is coming in at a very opportune time for offensive linemen.

The Clemson football offensive line was not good in 2020, no matter how someone would like to spin it, they were not good.

With Jackson Carman moving on, both Will Parks and Tristan Leigh will battle for the left tackle spot. More than likely Parks will take over the left tackle spot and Leigh will end up starting at right tackle and will take over for Jordan McFadden, who took 767 snaps at right tackle in 2020.

Yes, that is a lot of playing time but as we stated, that doesn’t mean it was a good 767 snaps. The 2020 and 2021 Clemson football signing classes added a lot of good depth and talent up front, it will be up to offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell to mold and create the nasty hogs upfront that Clemson has to have in order to keep contending on a national level.