Spring Storylines: Defense/ST

With everyone back on the defensive line in 2014, there won't be much to learn about that group during this year's spring practice. But there are a few other question marks.

Dabo Swinney will kick off the spring proceedings with a Tuesday afternoon press conference in the West End Zone. After Wednesday's practice, four more dates are tentatively scheduled before spring break.

Practice will resume on the 24th and continue through April. The annual Orange and White Spring Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 12.

In the meantime, we'll be keeping an eye on the following storylines and position battles.

Cornering the market

Brent Venables told reporters before last season that he was pulling for the veteran guys to win the starting cornerback jobs. They did. And, during the course of the season, they looked good. Now, Bashaud Breeland and Darius Robinson are chasing the dream of playing in the NFL.


Jenkins is one of two senior cornerbacks.
Heading into 2014, there are two senior cornerbacks and a whole bunch of guys from that 2013 signing class. Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins are the seniors. Some of the freshmen include Mackensie Alexander, Adrian Baker and Marcus Edmond. Cordrea Tankersley is the lone sophomore.

While Peters would be expected to win one of those starting spots, Jenkins might be better suited for a role in either the nickel or dime positions. If Jenkins plays one of the inside cornerback spots, he could be joined by Korrin Wiggins, who logged most of his freshman season snaps at the nickel position.

Outside backers

It took some time for Spencer Shuey to find his niche. Once he did, he was one of the most reliable defenders on the Clemson defense. Opposite of Shuey's weak-side spot was Quandon Christian on the strong-side, who held that job for the last four seasons.

Tony Steward is probably the top candidate to replace Shuey. And once fully healthy, Kellen Jones could contend for a spot at either outside linebacker position. But just how available he is for the spring is up in the air since he had ACL surgery in October.

This spring, B.J. Goodson, T.J. Burrrell and Dorian O'Daniel could be names to keep an eye on at outside linebacker.

Free time

Travis Blanks was the starting free safety until he went down with a torn ACL against The Citadel in November. Freshman Jayron Kearse stepped up in his place.

Four months removed from surgery, it's highly unlikely that the Clemson coaches will try to rush Blanks back to practice this spring. There are plenty of inexperienced candidates who could work at free safety behind Kearse, including Wiggins and T.J. Green, who recently converted from wide receiver.

Venables thinks Robert Smith could slide from strong to free safety in a pinch. But outside of Jadar Johnson, there isn't much in the way of depth behind Smith.

Let's kick it

After Chandler Catanzaro struggled through his redshirt freshman season, Swinney told reporters that his kicker would finish his career as one of the best kickers in school history.

Well, Catanzaro made his coach look good. Really good.

Now, it's time to find the heir apparent. Ammon Lakip looks like the primary candidate. Until he's joined by Alex Spence later this summer, Lakip will probably be the only candidate.

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