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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Corian Gipson

The Tigers had to battle hard with Texas for Gipson. Years ago it would be almost automatic for a Top 100 player from the Dallas area to be a Longhorn.

Despite the constant rumors being started through the fall, Gipson remained committed to Clemson. Now that he is an official Tiger, he is joining a talented but overall young defensive backfield.

RJ Mickens’s decision to return gives the Tigers a veteran leader in the secondary, as does the return of Tyler Venables after a year off due to injury. The balance of the depth chart in the backfield will relatively inexperienced.

Barnes, Terrell, and Shelton Lewis have shown promise, but there is always the dreaded sophomore slump. It happens, and there isn’t always a good reason why.

Is it common for freshmen corners can come in and be elite right away? No, but like last season with Terrell, sometimes it isn't required in Week 1. Terrell showed progress through the season and the coaches saw it. When the starters were injured and the Tigers needed him, he was ready.

That is why Clemson needs Gipson to be elite as quickly as possible. If things work out great with Jeadyn Lukus, Terrell, and Lewis, and there are no more injuries, then the Tigers should have decent depth at corner.

If Lukus succumbs to injury (as he has at points in both of his first two seasons with the Tigers) and/or either Terrell or Lewis are shaky, Gipson might be needed sooner rather than later.

Lastly, for those wondering about Nolan Hauser: Clemson does need him to be the starting kicker, but do they really need him to be elite to make a difference? Even if Hauser made 75% of his field goal attempts in Year 1, he would still be an improvement over the kicking game in 2023. So elite would be great, but good would be enough to be an improvement.