D/ST position battles worth watching

When spring practice opens in March, the search for new starters along the defensive line and another in the secondary is on.

Defensive Tackle
Assuming that Tyler Shatley stick around on the defensive side of the ball, he's the odds on favorite to take over Brandon Thompson's nose guard position.

This spring, four candidates will vie for time at defensive tackle, the same position occupied by Rennie Moore in 2011.

Spring Candidates
Tavaris Barnes
Kevin Dodd
Grady Jarrett
DeShawn Williams

Barnes was one of the hottest names coming out of last year's bowl and spring practices. As a redshirt freshman last season, he played 73 snaps and recorded seven tackles.

After spending a post-graduate season at Hargrave Military Academy, Dodd enrolled at Clemson in January. He could compete for time at either tackle or strong-side defensive end.

Jarrett played 61 snaps and had two tackles during his freshman season.

Of the freshmen defensive tackles signed by Clemson in 2011, Williams played the most snaps [138] and had the most tackles [20]. He started one game last season and exited as the favorite to takeover Moore's starting job.

Weak-Side Defensive End
Andre Branch held down the weak-side spot for the last two seasons after Ricky Sapp moved on to the NFL. Branch is now making his way towards a career in the league.

Spring Candidates
Vic Beasley
Corey Crawford

Beasley played in just three games at the bandit position after spending his first year at Clemson on the offensive side of the ball. He had two tackles in 16 snaps.

Crawford played 252 snaps at the bandit position in 2011. He was second among Clemson freshmen with 29 tackles. Crawford is the odds on favorite to win the starting job.

Coty Sensabaugh emerged as Clemson's top defensive back lasts season and he's now looking at a potential career in the NFL. He is the only cornerback to depart from last season's team.

Spring Candidates
Travis Blanks
Cortez Davis
Darius Robinson

Of the eight early enrolled prospects, Blanks was ranked the highest. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound freshman is expected to avoid a redshirt and earn playing time this fall.

Davis [6-3, 195] could have avoided a redshirt during his first year on campus and. He's expected to receive playing time this fall.

Robinson played a total of 346 snaps as a sophomore. Over the last five games, he logged 27. He finished the season with 18 tackles, one interception and a pass breakup.

Dawson Zimmerman's near four-year hold on the punting position is now over.

Spring Candidates
Spencer Benton
Greg Colquitt
Bradley Pinion

Last season, Benton had two punts with an average of 33 yards per attempt. His long was 43 yards.

Colquitt, a preferred walk-on in 2011, spent last year with a redshirt.

A U.S. Army All-American, Pinion is the our pick to takeover punting duties for next season. He'll get an early start by enrolling in school early.

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