Who plays, who sits: Defense

Now a full week removed from Signing Day, CUTigers takes a way too early look at which freshmen could play when the 2014 campaign kicks off this fall.

In the second part of our two-part series, we take a look at which defensive and special teams players will play, which ones will redshirt and just how confident we are with those predictions.

DE Richard Yeargin III
The final addition to Clemson's 2014 signing class was a much needed one. While there isn't a pressing need for defensive ends to fill roster spots this fall, it's going to be a different story in 2015. Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford and Tavaris Barnes are all seniors, so they'll be gone. Because there are so many veterans already on the roster, including Shaq Lawson, Yeargin could be hard-pressed to crack the two-deep depth chart. But Clemson typically likes to go five-deep with its defensive end rotation. To do that, he'll also have to beat out a couple of redshirt freshmen: Ebenezer Ogundeko and Dane Rogers.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: Medium

DT Jabril Robinson
Dabo Swinney told reporters on Signing Day that defensive tackle wasn't a big priority in 2014. That much is obvious in that Robinson was the only one. That will change in the 2015 haul after Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson and Deshawn Williams all approach their senior seasons in 2014. Along with that trio, D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins return. And waiting behind them is another trio of rotational pieces in Scott Pagano, Roderick Byers and Kevin Dodd. At 6-2, 255 pounds, Robinson needs to grow. Fortunately, for all parties, involved, he'll have time to do that. For his first semester after high school, Robinson may be doing that at a prep school.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: High


Register will start his career at middle linebacker.
LB Chris Register
Assuming that Register stays at his current position -- and that is the plan -- he'll have his work cut out for him if he's going to work his way into the middle linebacker rotation. Stephone Anthony is back for his senior season. Plus, the presence of B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware present potential road blocks to Register playing the MIKE this fall. The lone midyear enrollee on the defensive side of the ball, Register is listed at 6-4, 240. A move to defensive end could be in the cards.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: Low

LB Korie Rogers
Like Register, whether Rogers plays or not could be contingent upon which position Brent Venables decides to stick him at this season. According to Scout.com, Rogers projects as either a weak-side or middle linebacker. With the loss of Spencer Shuey, he could contend for a spot on the depth chart at WILL. While Tony Steward is probably the top candidate to win the job, Kellen Jones could figure into the equation there if he's not the guy at SAM. So there is a reasonable chance that Rogers avoids a redshirt this season.
Prediction: Plays
Confidence: Low

LB Kendall Joseph
We think Joseph profiles best as a weak-side linebacker, but he's also a potential fit in the middle. Joseph's proximity to the Clemson campus will allow him to be a regular at position meetings and on the sidelines at the practice fields this spring, so he has that working in his favor. But the consensus is that Rogers is a better prospect, so Joseph may have trouble overtaking him and Jones for two-deep spot at WILL.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: Medium

LB Jalen Williams
Williams is projected to spend this fall as a greyshirt, meaning he won't join the team until January of next year. With that in mind, even if he does enroll this summer, he would be projected to redshirt.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: High

S Jefferie Gibson
After watching Kam Chancellor help lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl title, defensive coordinators at all levels will be looking to find their version of the big, in-the-box strong safety. Clemson already has a couple of bigger safeties in Gibson and Jayron Kearse. At 6-3, 191 pounds, Gibson needs to gain some weight before he can be accurately compared to Chancellor, but there is some intrigue in what he might grow into. Clemson flipped Gibson's commitment from N.C. State in the fall. The Wolfpack took him as a wide receiver. With so many defensive backs already on the Clemson campus, he'll probably sit this fall.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: High

PK Alex Spence
Spence won his scholarship over the summer after a strong performance at the Dabo Swinney Football Camp. But once numbers got tight, Swinney asked Spence to either walk-on this season or greyshirt. Spence elected to walk-on, because he thinks he's got a legit crack at winning the starting place kicker job that was left vacant by Chandler Catanzaro. Ammon Lakip should be the leader in the clubhouse by the time Spence gets to school in the summer.
Prediction: Redshirts
Confidence: Low

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