Previewing the linebackers

CUTigers takes a closer look at a unit that will see significant change later this year in this extensive report.

WHO LEFT?
Brandon Maye - With one final year of eligibility remaining, Maye opted to transfer after his graduation from Clemson this spring. Of the nine games he played in last season, Maye started eight of them. He finished with 43 tackles in 353 snaps.

He was moved from middle linebacker to weak-side linebacker before the start of last season. Maye was unhappy about the position switch and his playing time, which resulted in his transfer.

THIS YEAR'S LINEUP
Daniel Andrews (Sr.) - Before going down with a knee injury at the end of the regular season, Andrews played 31 snaps and had five tackles.

Corico Hawkins (Jr.) - Started every game in the middle. Hawkins played 758 snaps and recorded 71 tackles. Both were third-best among all Clemson defenders. He was second with 10 tackles for loss.

Jonathan Willard (RS Jr.) - Willard played in 12 games last season, and started two of them at the weak-side position. In just 160 snaps, he finished with 27 tackles.

Quandon Christian (RS So.) - Of the 13 games Christian played in last year, he started seven of them from the strong-side spot. He finished with 24 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss over 378 snaps.

Spencer Shuey (RS So.) - Shuey played 68 snaps and recorded nine tackles in 2010.

Justin Parker (So.) - He played 57 snaps and made nine tackles last season.

Victor Beasley (RS Fr.) - Switched from tight end to linebacker after spending his first season as a redshirt.

BEHIND THE SCENES
Christian was the steadiest performer among all the linebackers last season and he showed improvement every week. It's expected that he'll continue on the uptick through the spring and keep a tight grip on that starting SAM linebacker job.

Despite the numbers, there were moments when Hawkins' play would leave defensive coordinator Kevin Steele scratching his head. This spring, Hawkins will have to fend off Parker, who could challenge for reps with the first-team at MIKE.

Shuey will continue to work as a goal line and short-yardage situation option at MIKE.

Assuming Andrews is healthy enough to go this spring, he can float between all three positions. The utility linebacker suffered an ACL injury last season.

It didn't take long for Beasley to get switched over to the defensive side of the ball. With the emergence of Brandon Ford as an option at tight end, Beasley's snaps on offense would have been few and far between. Now, he'll have to put together a solid spring to ensure that doesn't happen at linebacker.

STORYLINES WORTH FOLLOWING
1. Can Justin Parker, now a sophomore, take the next step? If so, at which position?

2. How will Vic Beasley develop as a linebacker? Is he ready to contribute?

3. Preparing for the arrival of 2011 linebacker class that features two five-star caliber prospects in Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward.

4. Daniel Andrews' recovery from knee surgery.

BOLD PREDICTION
Christian is the best of the returning linebackers and he'll continue to show that this spring. He'll be the only linebacker participating in spring practice that we're certain in projecting as a starter this fall.

PROJECTED POST-SPRING DEPTH CHART
SAM
1. Quandon Christian
2. Victor Beasley

MIKE
1. Corico Hawkins
2. Justin Parker

WILL
1. Jonathan Willard
2. Daniel Andrews


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