Post-spring review: DT

Now two weeks removed from the Orange and White spring game, we're on to the defensive tackles in the position-by-position post-spring review.

Post-spring review: DT

In the mix

Grady Jarrett: An 11-game starter last season, Jarrett had 49 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss last season over 512 snaps. He also had a pair of sacks and 10 quarterback pressures. The junior was listed as a starter at the end of spring practice.

Josh Watson: After playing just 21 snaps as a redshirt freshman in 2011, Watson logged 461 a year later. He recorded 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012. a nine-game starter last season, Watson exited the spring as one of the starters.

DeShawn Williams: Second on the current depth chart, Williams had 50 tackles over 370 snaps last season. Like Jarrett, he enters the 2013 season as a junior.

D.J. Reader: Despite splitting time between baseball and football this spring, Reader managed to keep a strong hold on his spot in the defensive tackle rotation. As a freshman last season, he played 236 snaps over 13 games, recording 40 tackles.

Carlos Watkins: A four-star prospect out of North Carolina's Chase High School in 2012, Watkins played 113 snaps in nine games as a freshman. He exited the spring third on the depth chart behind Jarrett and Williams.

Roderick Byers: Following his first-year on campus, Byers played 54 snaps over five games as a redshirt freshman. He had five tackles and one quarterback pressure.

Joining the mix

Clemson added just one defensive tackle in the 2013 signing haul -- four-star Scott Pagano. A four-star prospect from Honolulu, Pagano was a productive player at Moanalua High School. He had 62 tackles for loss during his junior and senior seasons.


Reader may be the most talented defensive tackle on the Clemson roster.
At least one more defensive tackle will be signed in 2014 and Clemson is in contention for a pair of five-stars -- Khairi Clark and Andrew Brown.

Offers are also out to several four-star, including Pine Forest High School [Fayetteville, N.C.] four-star Lamont Gaillard and Saluda four-star Dexter Wideman. One other instate defensive tackle has a Clemson offer, three-star Naquez Pringle.

The position is the deepest in the state's class and a few are under evaluation by the Clemson coaches -- Hilton Head's Poona Ford, Bluffton's K.J. Ford and South Pointe's Zeek Rodney.

Key storyline

Guess who's back? Everybody.

The entire five-man rotation from last year's defensive tackle group is back in 2013. And they all have at least one more year of eligibility remaining after this season.

Assuming there's no attrition over the next year-plus, Clemson will return seven defensive tackles in 2014.

Candidate to be a star

With so many guys returning to the position, there are a number of viable candidates, but the top choice would have to be Reader, who averaged a tackle every six snaps last season.

When that stat is compared to his teammates, it helps make the case: Watson averaged a tackle every 8.5 snaps, Williams averaged a tackle every 7.4 snaps and Jarrett averaged a tackle every 10.5 snaps.

Reader, a former three-star offensive guard by Scout.com, has All-ACC potential. It's no wonder Dabo Swinney promised Reader a chance to play baseball at Clemson. And it's no wonder Swinney didn't make much noise about Reader missing spring practice for baseball.

Looking ahead to the fall

Collectively, now that the group has another year of experience under its belt, one would have to expect that there will be noticeable improvements against the run and in pass rush situations.

As the 2012 season went along, the tackles showed signs of improvement in both areas. Another offseason of growth in the weight room and experience in the film room should pay dividends this fall. They'll have a great way to gauge that on Aug. 31 when Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall come to town with Georgia.

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