Will there be enough snaps for all the Clemson Football safeties?
Jalyn Phillips and Andrew Mukuba were named to the PFF third-team All-ACC squad. The surprise was that R.J. Mickens was named to the second-team squad. Obviously, the starters come from that group and the third guy is the first off the bench.
Next up was expected to be Tyler Venables, but Dabo Swinney has shared that he isn’t expected to play much this season. Venables is an experienced player and a veteran leader for the group, as you might expect considering his last name. His absence will be felt, but there is still hope he can return at the end of the season and play a few games while redshirting.
While this depth is encouraging, it also brings up some worrisome questions. Sherrod Covil is entering his sophomore season after a decent freshman year. While it is ideal for Covil to see more snaps, it is hard to know exactly how much field time he sees with the top players ahead of him.
Then there is freshman Khalil Barnes, who turned some heads in the spring game. If he is as good as he appeared, he will compete for minutes too.
The depth is good in case there are injuries, as we have already learned with Venables. The problem is that there is a realistic chance at least two, possibly all three, of the top safeties are gone after 2023. Guys like Covil and Barnes will be next up. How much time will they get this season to develop? Will they all be patient enough to wait for their turn in 2024? First-world problems, but real ones too.
The possible solution could come from the linebackers. With the departure of TJ Dudley, it seems more and more likely that it could be a safety coming on the field while the SAM is pulled off the field in certain situations.