3 Questions about the Clemson Football Linebackers this spring

Jeremiah Trotter is moving on to the NFL, but Barrett Carter and Wade Woodaz return to anchor the middle of the defense. Oh, and there's this freshman.....

Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter smiles after recovering a fumble against Kentucky
Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter smiles after recovering a fumble against Kentucky / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Can Wade Woodaz fill the leadership gap left by Jeremiah Trotter?

Wade Woodaz isn’t being drooled over by pro scouts the way Trotter and Carter have been, but he has established himself as a playmaker for the Tiger defense. He will likely be the guy who benefits from offenses putting extra resources into stopping Carter.

He will be asked to play a bigger role in 2024. In his pre-spring press conference, Dabo Swinney confirmed the plan is to keep Carter at weak-side linebacker and start Woodaz in the middle, taking over for Jeremiah Trotter.

Woodaz is a very good athlete. I would dare say in some respects that he might even be more athletic than Trotter (but not in all respects).

The real question here is regarding Woodaz’s ability to be a leader. The middle linebacker spot is critical for the cohesion of the defense. The MIKE is often responsible for adjusting and communicating during the play.

We saw how critical a player like James Skalski could be a few years ago when he was injured and his backups just didn’t have the same ability to recognize offensive schemes and communicate.

Skalski is an extreme example. Trotter wasn’t known for being as active as Skalski, so I am in no way saying that Woodaz needs to be Skalski. He does need to step up into a leadership role, however.

Next: How quickly will Sammy Brown enter the rotation?