Breaking down the linebackers

With the start of preseason camp just around the corner, we take a look at each position and how things could pan out this fall.

The starters

After splitting time as the starting middle linebacker in 2012, Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony could spend plenty of time on the field at the same time this fall.

Shuey, who started seven games last season, was named the starter on the weak-side during spring practice.

Anthony, the starter in the first six games of 2012, was listed as the middle linebacker starter during the spring.

Quandon Christian, a three-year starter on the strong-side, is still listed on the first-team at SAM.

The starting trio combined for 199 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss last season.

Also in the mix

After Shuey at WILL are Tony Steward and Kellen Jones. B.J. Goodson and Jones are listed after Anthony at MIKE. Behind Christian on the strong-side is T.J. Burrell.

Several freshmen joined the mix this summer. Dorian O'Daniel is expected to work on the strong-side, so could D.J. Greenlee. Ben Boulware will play in the middle at MIKE.

Another freshman, Jayron Kearse, could grow into a strong-side linebacker. For now, he'll work as a defensive back, likely at the nickel/SAM position that Travis Blanks played a season ago.

How it might play out

Shuey could slide back to the middle if Anthony's play doesn't reach a level desired by defensive coordinator Brent Venables, but that shouldn't be an issue.

With a full year of experience Venables' system, Anthony could be looking at a breakout-type of season in 2013. Described by Venables as a "prototypical middle linebacker," Anthony will remain at that position during his Clemson career.

All three of the incoming freshmen could take a redshirt this season. But the lack of experience behind Christian could allow for O'Daniel to avoid a redshirt. Given the way he performed on the all-star circuit last December, it wouldn't be wise to count Boulware out of the mix in 2013.

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