Will Toriano Pride and/or Jeadyn Lukus emerge for Clemson Football?
Both Pride and Lukus had to step up as freshmen when injuries put Sheridan Jones on the shelf. They both took their lumps, but they showed some flashes of how good they could be too. Both had interceptions at key times in 2022.
Jones will exhaust his eligibility in 2023. If Nate Wiggins plays as well as everyone hopes he will, he will be a candidate to leave early for the NFL.
Dabo Swinney has a way of convincing players to stay, but if Wiggins does move on, the projected starters for 2024 are Pride and Lukus.
The talent is there. Both were rated as 4-star prospects by 247Sports. Lukus was ranked 39th overall, and Pride was 40th. Lukus was injured in spring 2022, so Pride saw more action, but both got valuable reps. Players like them can often see a big jump after their first season. They know what to expect and will be much more comfortable as they prepare for the season.
"“I feel like experience most definitely slows the game down for me more. I’m more educated on the defense. I know a lot more positions. I’m learning everything.”"
Both players are expected to be healthy and ready to compete in fall camp.
Unlike in the safety group, Pride and Lukus will get plenty of snaps this season. Ideally, both players develop into guys that Mike Reed is comfortable with in the first string in 2024.
The more immediate concern is if Jones can’t shake the injury bug and one of them must step into the starting role in 2023. Pride got that chance in 2022, but that could have been because Lukus’s development was slowed by injuries of his own.
The biggest competition of fall camp for the defensive backs might be to determine who the third cornerback will be.