Sometimes freshmen can make an immediate impact because they simply are that good, and the staff can’t keep them off the field.
Sometimes even good players have other good players with more experience ahead of them, and they have to wait their turn.
Other times, teams are low on established players who can be part of the rotation immediately, and that is where Clemson Football finds itself at the defensive end position.
Parker will be one of the starters in 2024, but the other spot is up for grabs. Cade Denhoff would be the presumptive leader for that spot, with Zaire Patterson, Jaheim Lawson, and AJ Hoffler competing for the spot. Those three players might be good, but we haven’t seen much of them yet.
New defensive end coach Chris Rumph will need to evaluate what he has to line up opposite Parker, and one option is Darien Mayo.
Mayo is a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite. 247 considers him the 5th best player in Clemson’s 2024 class.
"Disruptive player off the edge who possesses the skill set and athleticism to drop into coverage and handle the flat. Made a significant leap as a player since the end of junior season and is playing faster and with more urgency. Has elite size and length and is showing the athleticism to play on the edge in high school but possesses defensive line traits for college. Verified measurements includes an 82-inch wing span and a shuttle in the 4.6s"- Brian Dohn
At 6’-7” and 250 pounds, it isn’t unreasonable to think Mayo could be physically ready to contribute this fall. If Denhoff or the other options don’t lock down that second starting spot, Mayo may begin to work his way up the depth chart.