Finding the right five

SUNSET, S.C. - Dan Brooks' perfect world includes five players that he can run in and out of a game and not have to worry about a drop in performance

Back for 2013 is everyone from last year's five-man defensive tackle rotation, Grady Jarrett, D.J. Reader, Carlos Watkins, Josh Watson and DeShawn Williams.

"Two of those guys are going to start in that first game," Brooks said. "I don't know which ones it's going to be. If I had to say, I'd say that Grady Jarrett will be one of them.

"Whether it's Josh Watson, D.J. Reader, it's up to them, not to me. That's what I try to convince them of, it's what they do this offseason with Joey Batson, because I'm going to sit down and listen to his whole evaluation from the summer."

Out of last year's five, Watkins played the least -- 113 snaps. Reader played 236 snaps, Williams played 370, Watson played 461 and Jarrett played 512.

"Those five guys, we're going to compete with DeShawn, Josh, Grady, Carlos and D.J., I feel like [they] have earned that deal," Brooks said.

In addition to that group, there are two other candidates that could make their way into this season's quintet -- Scott Pagano and Roderick Byers.

Pagano, a freshman from Hawaii, was a four-star prospect out of high school. Byers is now working full-time at tackle after spending some time at end during the opening stages of his career.

"I told Carlos Watkins in recruiting, ‘I'm recruiting you to beat those [older] guys out. And I've told him, ‘I'm recruiting Pagano to beat you out.'"
"Rod Byers did some better things in the spring…I told Carlos Watkins in recruiting, ‘I'm recruiting you to beat those [older] guys out,'" Brooks said. "And I've told him, ‘I'm recruiting Pagano to beat you out.' That's the mentality I take with ‘em."

Brooks will start to get a more up to date sense of things later this weekend when the Clemson coaches will gather for their annual retreat, which ends Monday. Preason camp opens Friday, Aug. 2.

"That daily routine -- coach [Dabo] Swinney tells them all the time, if you don't enjoy the grind, you don't need to play college football, because what we're about to do right now, we're about to hit a grind," Brooks said. "No pretty girls on campus. There aren't many people there on August 1 until August 31. It's a grind." Top Stories