Option #1: He will use it on a transfer linebacker to replace Dudley
The Tigers now only have six players on scholarship at linebacker. That sounds concerningly low considering Clemson has traditionally played with three linebackers in the starting lineup. They now have a single backup at each position and then its walk-ons (there are five).
The reality is that the Tigers have become more multiple since the 2019 season. Often when the SAM linebacker comes off the field, he is replaced by a nickelback or a third safety.
Even if the starter doesn’t come off the field, he will drop into coverage on passing downs. That is how Isaiah Simmons played, and how many believe Wade Woodaz will play this season.
It is possible that Coach Swinney and defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin aren’t all that concerned about only having six linebackers on scholarship this season, even though every backup will either be a redshirt freshman or a true freshman.
There is one intriguing option available in the portal if the Tigers are interested. Northwestern true freshman Nigel Glover has entered the transfer portal. This is allowed because the head coach was recently dismissed in their hazing scandal.
247Sports rated Glover as a 4-star linebacker in the Class of 2023. He was the highest-rated recruit of Northwestern’s class. The Tigers would probably prefer someone with more experience, but beggars can’t be choosers.
While he is an option, he might not be exactly what the Tigers are looking for. Dudley was most likely going to back up the MIKE and WILL linebackers, and it sounds like Glover is more of a ‘Woodaz-type’ safety who has the frame to develop into a linebacker. Freshman Jamal Anderson fits that mold too and is likely to back up Woodaz at SAM, and there is always the nickel/third safety option too, so Glover might not fit the bio of what Clemson would want in a transfer linebacker.