3 Questions about the Clemson Football safeties this spring

While the cornerbacks lack experience and depth, the safety group has both in abundance.

Dec 29, 2023; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers safety Khalil Barnes (36) celebrates
Dec 29, 2023; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers safety Khalil Barnes (36) celebrates / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
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Is Khalil Barnes the next Tiger that will be known nationally by season’s end?

Barnes made a name for himself as a freshman. He was named to the All-ACC Freshman team and third-team All-ACC. He was the first player during Dabo Swinney’s tenure as head coach to record both multiple forced fumbles and multiple interceptions during his freshman season. He was recognized as the ACC Defensive Back of the Week and the Thorpe Award National Defensive Back of the Week for his performance against South Carolina.

A recurring theme for 2023’s impressive freshmen has been the potential for the 2024 sophomore slump. One might think Barnes is too good for that to happen, and one might be right.

I also remember how Andrew Mukuba’s best season was as a freshman and he never performed that well again, so I wouldn’t bet my life savings that Barnes will take the next step.

That said, it seems much more likely than not. Barnes just seemed like a natural from the beginning, the way it felt when I saw guys like Deshaun Watson and Travis Etienne take the field when they were freshmen. Barnes is just a great player, and he is likely to be the next name people nationally pay attention to with Clemson.

Next: Will Tyler Venables be more important on the field or on the sideline?