Projecting the Clemson Football depth chart: Linebacker

Projecting the starting linebackers for Clemson Football can be tricky these days because they don't always play with the traditional three-player formation.
Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter (0) pressures Florida State University quarterback Jordan Travis
Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter (0) pressures Florida State University quarterback Jordan Travis / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

The linebacker position for Clemson Football isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. Sometimes the Tigers use three linebackers. Sometimes they use two linebackers, dropping the third in favor of a nickel/safety hybrid.

The lineup can change from snap to snap, but it seems the latter arrangement with two linebackers is becoming the ‘normal’ formation. Because of this, it's hard to project starters into positions, because I think it could vary based on what the formations are. Instead, I will start with a Top 3 linebackers.

  1. Barrett Carter – WILL

2. Wade Woodaz – MIKE/SAM

3. Sammy Brown – MIKE

I think it is safe to say that Carter is your starting weakside linebacker. I think it's also safe to say that he will take almost all the snaps at WILL unless he is injured or completely exhausted.

I think Woodaz has earned enough credit with this staff that he will be the second starter. I think he is also flexible. If there are two linebackers in the game, Woodaz lines up at middle linebacker.

Brown is a great talent and he looked like he fit right in during the Spring Game. He conceded afterward that his head was swimming for much of spring practice as he learned the ropes. He will get plenty of playing time, but it appears his primary position will be in the middle.

As such, I think Woodaz and Brown will rotate fairly evenly when the Tigers are running two linebackers. When they put three on the field, it seems logical that Woodaz swings out to the strongside linebacker, and Brown takes the middle.

It is slightly less complicated after that.

Projected back-ups: Kobe McCloud (MIKE), Jamal Anderson (SAM), Dee Crayton (WILL)

Reserves: Drew Woodaz, CJ Kubah-Taylor

Anderson flashed in the Spring Game with a big-time athletic play. I wonder if he could be more of a safety hybrid than a straight SAM linebacker. He is still only listed at 215 pounds on the team roster.

McCloud is short in stature (5’-10”) but he seems to have earned the trust of Wes Goodwin and the staff to hold his own. We haven’t heard a lot about Crayton, but he is the next most logical choice to back up Carter.

Neither of the freshmen, Drew Woodaz or Kubah-Taylor, enrolled early, so they would be on the outside of the two-deep unless something unusual happened in fall camp.