Previewing the defensive tackles

Up next in the position-by-position spring practice preview are the defensive tackles.

Jarvis Jenkins, Miguel Chavis, John Wright - Jenkins was a three-year starter, and an all-conference his last two seasons. He'll hear his name called during the NFL Draft in April- possibly as early as the second or third round.

Chavis started three of the 47 games he played in during his career. He played almost 900 snaps as a Tiger, many of which as a nose guard.

Wright, a former walk-on, played in five games.

DT Rennie Moore (RS Sr.) - A versatile member of the defensive line, Moore had 26 tackles in 315 snaps in 2010. Seven of his tackles went for loss, and two were sacks. He played 233 snaps in the two seasons before last.

DT Brandon Thompson (Sr.) - The leading tackler among the returning defensive tackles, Thompson had 56 stops, 7.5 going for loss. He also recorded a sack last season. In 800 snaps during his first two seasons, Thompson has 39 tackles and seven tackles for loss. Returning starter at nose guard.

DT Tyler Shatley (RS So.) - The nose guard played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman. Over 127 snaps last fall, he registered 11 tackles.

DT Tra Thomas (RS Fr.) - As a senior at Anson High School (N.C.), Thomas had 37 tackles and four recovered fumbles.

DT Josh Watson (Rs Fr.) - Originally from Delaware, Watson came to Clemson via Hargrave Military Academy. He enrolled at Clemson in January of 2010.

Defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks begins his third season at Clemson. The veteran coach will have a small group to work with once practice starts in March.

Moore and Thompson will be asked to pick up the leadership void left behind with the departure of Jenkins. Moore, who's among the most out-going personalities on the team, will have a voice on this team. Thompson, who's among the more reserved players on the roster, is also one of the top NFL prospects at Clemson.

There are a few unknowns behind the two starters.

Shatley, who's one of the team's top performers in the weight room, continues to learn how to play on the defensive line. He played mostly fullback in high school.

Thomas is another weight room worker, but he's the shorter linemen on the team. Listed at 6-foot, Thomas is closer to 5-10. His listed weight is 285.

Two years ago, Watson was among the highest rated signees. Not long into his first spring practice in 2010, he quickly realized he's got plenty to learn at the college level.

Signees from the 2011 class, Kevin Dodd, Grady Jarrett, Jerome Maybank and Deshawn Williams, are scheduled to arrive later this summer.

1. Next on the depth chart. Thompson and Moore are expected to occupy the starting nose guard and tackle positions, respectively. But who's going to be the third option?

2. The progression of Watson. He entered Clemson as a four-star, but it became apparent very quickly that he's a bit of a project.

3. Brooks' group is thin on numbers with the departures of Jenkins, Chavis and Wright. Only three of the tackles on this spring's roster have played a snap at the college level.

4. How much defensive end Tavaris Barnes plays inside. Recruited as an end, he told CUTigers last season that he's expecting an eventual move to tackle.

Shatley will exit spring practice as the third-man in the rotation up front. Not only is he the most experienced, but he's the most talented of the three tackles. He'll be listed as the backup nose guard, behind Thompson.

Defensive tackle
1. Rennie Moore
2. Josh Watson

Nose guard
1. Brandon Thompson
2. Tyler Shatley Top Stories