5 Freshmen that need to be elite for Clemson Football in 2024

Since it doesn't look like Clemson Football will be adding talent through the portal, the Tigers need freshmen talent to contribute to get them back to the College Football Playoff.
Drew Woodaz, left, and Sammy Brown, signees, watch Clemson football team practice
Drew Woodaz, left, and Sammy Brown, signees, watch Clemson football team practice / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Darien Mayo

Parker was very good this season at defensive end, which is a blessing for the Tigers. The other two defensive ends who saw significant playing time this season, Xavier Thomas and Justin Mascoll, have both exhausted their eligibility.

The Tigers did not bring in a transfer at defensive end the way many thought they would, which means they need someone already on the roster to step up to take the starting position opposite Parker.

There are a few options on the depth chart. Cade Denhoff saw the most time on the field outside of Thomas, Mascoll, and Parker, but not enough time to really gauge if he would be solid. Names like AJ Hoffler and Jaheim Lawson saw even less time and are more of a mystery.

The candidate from the Class of 2024 is Darien Mayo, and the more we learn about him, the more he seems like he could make an impact right away.

He is physically imposing at 6’-7” and 250 pounds. In early October, Mayo’s national ranking was 372nd. Today he is 148th.

247’s Brian Dohn alludes to the reasoning for the jump in his assessment of Mayo.

"“Made a significant leap as a player since the end of junior season and is playing faster and with more urgency….. Markedly more active as a senior and showcasing his ability to play standing up and getting into the backfield….. Worked hard to develop technique and must continue to refine it. Big upside prospect who can excel along the front for a top 20 program. Mid-round NFL draft projection.”"

Brian Dohn

The way I interpret that is that Mayo developed a motor his senior season, and when he became more active, his long-term potential began to shine.

If that interpretation is true, then maybe we should think of Mayo as a developmental guy, but since there is a need for another impact player at defensive end, Mayo will have a chance to show what he can do early if he keeps that motor running.

Next: Corian Gipson