Post-spring review: OLB

Up next in the post-spring review of each position on the Clemson roster are the outside linebackers.

In the mix

Quandon Christian: A multi-year starter at the strong-side position, Christian logged 447 snaps last season. He had 39 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks. Christian, who's one of two senior linebackers, continues to hold the starting SAM spot.

Spencer Shuey: Shuey started the final seven games of the 2012 season in the middle at MIKE. He finished second on the team with 85 tackles, but only played 502 snaps, which was ninth-most among Clemson defenders. This spring, Shuey was spent time between the middle and weak-side. He exited the spring as the starter at WILL.

Tony Steward: Knee injuries have made prevented Steward from making the kind of early impact that many thought he would. Plus, Jonathan Willard was one of the most consistent linebackers on the team in each of the last two seasons. Now a junior, Steward is listed as the No. 2 weak-side linebacker on the depth chart, behind another senior.

Kellen Jones: The Oklahoma transfer has cross-trained a couple of positions while at Clemson. He'll push for playing time at both MIKE and WILL after sitting out last seasons. Jones is currently listed on the third-team at WILL.

T.J. Burrell: The former Goose Creek standout spent his first season on campus with a redshirt. After spring practice, he was listed as the second-team SAM linebacker.

Joining the mix

A few more pieces will be added to the roster when the 2013 signing class gets to campus later this summer.

Dorian O'Daniel was a U.S. Army All-American.
Four-star Dorian O'Daniel played a lot of running back at one of the top high school programs in the country, but he's going to be an outside linebacker at Clemson. He could find a home at SAM.

Two other signees could spend most of their careers at outside linebacker. D.J. Greenlee will begin playing there, but he could slide over to the other side of the ball and play 3-back. If Jayron Kearse gets too big to play safety, he could move closer to the line of scrimmage and work at outside linebacker. Either way, the nickel/SAM spot could be the position he plays this fall.

It looks like Brent Venables will sign a linebacker or two next February. A few potential additions for the outside include Korie Rogers, Chris Register, Richard Yeargin III and KeShun Freeman.

Key storyline

The position suffered a little more offseason attrition than originally anticipated. Lateek Townsend announced that he would seek out other options at the end of the semester and Justin Parker opted to retire from the game because of injuries.

Those losses, combined with the graduations of Willard and Corico Hawkins, haven't left the position in dire straits, but the SAM position was a little thin during spring ball. However, there's talent left on the roster. The arrival of O'Daniel and the others will help.

Looking ahead to the fall

This spring, message board patrons and talk radio shows callers wondered why Shuey was moved to the outside during the spring and why Stephone Anthony was bumped back into the No. 1 spot at MIKE. Reporters wondered, too.

After all, Shuey was very good when he took over the starting job midway through last season -- many would argue that he was better than Anthony.

As has been the case since he arrived to Clemson, Brent Venables is committed to keeping Anthony in the middle. As has been the case since he began coaching, Venables wants his best linebackers on the field. And he believes Anthony and Shuey are two of the best three linebackers on the roster.

It's something that will continue to raise eyebrows until the final day in August. That's when everyone else will get to see what Venables watched all spring. Top Stories