Last summer, there was a lot of excitement about the Clemson Football linebackers. Trenton Simpson was returning for his third season and he was surrounded by athletes. As the unit moved from Brent Venables to Wes Goodwin, there was hope that the gifted but overall inexperienced linebackers would thrive under Goodwin’s leadership.
Venables needed his linebackers to absorb a lot of information, which is why veterans like James Skalski and Baylon Spector functioned so well in his system. The idea under Goodwin was that by simplifying the requirements, the younger players could think less and react more.
There was also a plan to move Simpson to WILL, which was thought to be where his future was in the NFL.
In theory, it was a great plan. In practice, it wasn’t quite that simple. The athletic linebackers made lots of plays, but there were hiccups, especially with coverage on screens. The linebackers were a little gullible.
Then injuries nipped Simpson and Barrett Carter briefly, and to account for their absences, the players moved around a bit. It turned out that Carter was better at WILL and Simpson was better at SAM.
By the end of the season, the linebackers were settled in and playing very well. With only Simpson moving on, they have a chance now to put in a very good full season in 2023.
Here are the roster expectations as we approach fall camp.
- Expected starters:
- WILL: Barrett Carter (Jr)
- MIKE: Jeremiah Trotter (Jr)
- SAM: Wade Woodaz (So)
- Depth: Kobe McCloud (RS Fr), Jamal Anderson (Fr), Dee Crayton (Fr)
- Walk-ons: Riggs Faulkenberry (RS So), Colby Doolittle (RS So), Reed Morrissey (RS So), Fletcher Cothran (RS Fr), Chandler McMaster (RS Fr)
Here are three questions about the linebackers.