Projecting the Clemson Football depth chart: Tight end

Clemson Football is not hurting for options at tight end in 2024, so they might try to get more than one on the field at a time.
Nov 11, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers tight end Jake Briningstool (9)
Nov 11, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers tight end Jake Briningstool (9) / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson Football got a big boost when the deadline for declaring for the NFL Draft came and went without an announcement from starting tight end Jake Briningstool. He will be a key target for Cade Klubnik this fall, but there are other names to talk about behind him on the depth chart.

Projected starter: Jake Briningstool

Projected back-up: Josh Sapp

Reserves: Olsen Patt-Henry, Markus Dixon, Christian Bentancur

The Tigers would appear to have everything it could want at tight end in 2025. It almost sounds too good to be true, which often means it is.

Briningstool did not have a good start to the 2023 season under first-year coordinator Garrett Riley. Either Briningstool didn’t understand his role in Riley’s system, Riley didn’t understand the best way to use Briningstool, or it was a combination of both.

Around mid-season, they ironed out the wrinkles. Briningstool exploded against the Miami Hurricanes and from that point forward he was an important target for Klubnik in Clemson’s passing attack.

I would not expect another slow start for Briningstool. I think the opposite: he should get off to a fast start this season. I also think he won’t be the only tight end we see a healthy dose of early. Josh Sapp has proven himself capable with much less playing time than Briningstool.

The Tigers used 21-personnel several times last season, which means two running backs. They had both Will Shipley and Phil Mafah, and it made sense to try to get both offensive weapons on the field. Shipley will be part of the NFL Draft over the next few days, so the focus will be on Mafah. We won’t likely see nearly as much 21-personnel this season.

That potentially gives way to the possibility of 12-personnel, which is a formation with two tight ends. In 2024, it will be the tight end room that has an abundance of weapons.

Sapp isn’t the only one we could see line up with Briningstool. Patt-Henry has seen his share of snaps when the opportunities arise. There is enthusiasm for Patt-Henry from the staff and his teammates. I haven’t personally seen him put it together on the field, but his chances to show me what he can do have been limited so far, so I am keeping an open mind.

Dixon also seems to be someone who holds promise to those on the inside who have seen him, but he redshirted in 2023 and hasn’t seen the field much.

Then there is Bentancur, who is a member of the Class of 2024 who did not enroll early. He remained in high school to play basketball. As a prospect, Bentancur is one of the most highly-rated tight ends entering college football this season. If he is as good as they say, he might work his way through the depth chart as the season progresses. Arriving in summer means he has his work cut out for him.

What is the drawback of having this much talent in a position group that usually puts one player on the field at a time? Playing time, of course. Even if the Tigers employ 12-personnel as a wrinkle a few times a game, there are still only so many snaps to be had for tight ends.