Clemson Football is getting a lot of respect before the 2023 season, but with the improvement by the Florida State Seminoles in 2022, this is the first season when you can honestly say Clemson is flying a little beneath the radar going into a season.
There are a few players on Clemson’s roster that are similar. People who follow the team know they are good players, but they aren’t considered the best of the best for the Tigers.
Some of those players could be positioned to make a big jump this season, and maybe even put themselves into the conversation for early entry into the NFL Draft.
Here are three players who most people are sleeping on that could be big contributors for the Tigers in 2023.
It feels strange to say Tate will be a junior this season. It seems like yesterday that he showed out in the spring game as an early enrollee.
Since then, he stepped into the lineup at left guard as a freshman. The whole line had its issues in 2021 for certain, but when we take a step back and consider Tate was so inexperienced, he did a decent job. He was doing well last season as well before the injury bug bit hard and caused him to miss the latter part of the season.
Maybe part of the reason it feels like he is under the radar is because he missed the stretch run of the 2022 season.
One of the reasons observers tend to be positive about the prospects for Clemson’s offensive line this season is that they are returning four starters. Three of them – Will Putnam, Walker Parks, and Tate – have two seasons of experience starting.
While the right side of the line is stable, the one place where there is change is at left tackle, on the side where Tate holds down guard. It looks like Tristan Leigh will get the start at LT, and there has been talk that Colin Sadler could be an option there as well. In the case that neither works out, the stop-gap measure we are hearing is that Tate could kick out the left tackle.
Additionally, the word from camp is that Garrett Riley’s offense involves a little more pulling by the guards than in previous years.
To sum up, if things work well at left tackle, the line should be good, and Tate will be a big part of that. If he gets to pull, he gets a chance to use his athleticism to shine. If Leigh or Sadler don’t cut it, Tate gets a chance to show his versatility by moving to tackle. There are a lot of good opportunities for Tate in 2023.