Post Spring Analysis: Rover & Free Safety

Today we take a closer look at the free safety and rover positions headed into the start of fall practice. It almost goes without saying that these two positions are a strength of the team, with both ample depth and solid talent at both positions.

As we have documented over the course of the last few weeks here at, the Clemson secondary will be an unquestioned strength of the team headed into the start of fall practice.

Junior rover Jamaal Fudge has emerged as one of the stars of Clemson defense after a year in which he led the Tigers in interceptions with four.

Meanwhile, senior Travis Pugh has solidified the free safety spot after a solid year of production in his first full season as a starter.

Overall, this dynamic duo finished third and fourth respectively on the team in tackles last season with 116 and 102.

Both players are quick on their feet, and both provide ample run support. Fudge in particular had one of the most spectacular plays for the Clemson defense last year when he squared up on FSU running back Greg Jones, and executed a perfect form tackle, driving him backwards and into the ground.

Senior Travis Pugh looks anything like a slender free safety.
The play was instrumental in helping spark the Clemson defense to one of their most dominating performances in years.

This spring, the steady play of Fudge and Pugh continued, as both players held their own against the competition. In the Orange & White game, Fudge brought in an over-the-shoulder interception and Pugh recovered a fumble in the redzone as both players thwarted potential drives by the offense.

Pugh will be backed up by redshirt freshman Roy Walker this fall.

Walker, a quarterback in high school, has been one of the young players on the team that the Clemson coaching staff remains very high on.

"Roy Walker had a good spring for us," said head coach Tommy Bowden. "He was thrown in there and he made some plays and showed us something."

Walker had an interception in the Orange & White game and appears to be poised for serious playing time this fall, despite the fact that he's a redshirt freshman.

Behind Fudge, Tavaghn Monts will be serve as the second team rover. Monts moved over from free safety spot before the start of spring practice to give Walker a shot at his old position, but don't underestimate his ability.

In limited playing time last year (90 total plays), Monts registered 15 total tackles.

However, this spring, in watching the Tigers' three scrimmages, it was evident that the rising junior has developed a "nose for the ball."

In the Orange & White game earlier this month, Monts led the White team with 8 tackles and was seemingly in on as many plays as any defender on the field.

Behind Monts, redshirt freshman Maurice Nelson will try and sneak his way into the lineup.

Nelson, the much-heralded safety out of Crestwood High School, redshirted his freshman year and is probably still a year away from seeing significant playing time. Top Stories