Projecting the Clemson Football depth chart: Defensive End

We know TJ Parker will start at defensive end for Clemson Football. We think Peter Woods will start at defensive end too, but there is still some gray area.
T.J. Parker (12) and Peter Woods (11)
T.J. Parker (12) and Peter Woods (11) / Gannett-USA TODAY NETWORK

When Dabo Swinney addressed personnel plans for the defensive end position in his pre-spring press conference, we thought things would be straightforward. As Lee Corso says: Not so fast, my friend.

Swinney said that Woods was moving to defensive end to join Parker in the starting line-up, which was a move many fans expected and embraced. I was one of the people who hoped Woods would stay at defensive tackle, but if the coaches thought this change was for the best, then I was on board.

Then we learned Woods wouldn’t play in the Spring Game due to illness. That was disappointing but understandable. Unexpected things happen sometimes.

Then we saw Hoffler and Lawson show out with some impact plays in the Spring Game. Denhoff and Patterson got their names called a few times. I left that game thinking the roster at defensive end was probably better than I thought going into it.

We now have more questions than answers. Until I hear the staff say otherwise, I don’t think we have any choice but to assume Woods will stay at defensive end, but there are just a couple of indicators that suggest his position might still be in flux.

First, Woods wasn’t the only tackle who moved to end for the spring. Swinney also said Story was moving to end. Story got several of his snaps in the spring game at tackle.

Second, if you look at Clemson’s official roster, most of the defensive linemen are listed as DE or DT. Woods and Story are listed with the generic DL.

I feel like I need to address two contingencies. If Woods stays at defensive end, I think this is how the depth chart falls.

Projected starters: TJ Parker, Peter Woods

Projected back-ups: Cade Denhoff, AJ Hoffler

Reserves: Jaheim Lawson, Zaire Patterson, Darien Mayo

Wild card: Caden Story

If Woods isn’t exclusively an end, then the depth chart could look more like this:

Projected starters: TJ Parker, AJ Hoffler

Projected back-ups: Cade Denhoff, Jaheim Lawson

Reserves: Zaire Patterson, Darien Mayo

Wild cards: Peter Woods, Caden Story

I suspect Hoffler has shown the staff more upside than Denhoff, so I favor him to move into the starting lineup if Woods is at tackle.

Lawson is a freak athlete, but I am not certain that he has shown that he is a better every-down end than Denhoff. Lawson strikes me as a guy the staff would love to sub into the game on 3rd and long, but maybe not when the opponent is likely to run the ball.

I do think that Lawson has beaten out Patterson, so he is the most likely to join Denhoff on the second string.

I have high hopes for Mayo, but it's hard to gauge what role he can play because he did not enroll early.