Gaddis Move Could Pay Dividends: Part II

C.J. Gaddis has quickly become a fan favorite and he's yet to even play a down for the Clemson Tigers. In this second of a three part series, we examine why Gaddis was moved to defense, and explain why the move will be viewed as nothing short of a huge success in the coming seasons.

To read part I of this series, click here.

Starting Position Still Open
When a guy is labeled as "the best athlete on campus" and whispers of the name Woodrow Dantzler are heard when referring to his athleticism, the plan shouldn't be to just get him on the field for passing situations.

No, the plan should be to get him on the field as much as humanly possible. And yes, we are talking about converted cornerback C.J. Gaddis.

When looking at the Clemson secondary, there's little doubt that Justin Miller and Tye Hill will be formidable duo as the starting cornerbacks this fall. However, what most Clemson fans will be surprised to find out is that the starting corners for this team are not necessarily set in stone.

That's right.

Don't be fooled by all the "coach talk" this spring of how Tye Hill is the best cornerback on this football team. The fact remains that Justin Miller has a chance to be one of the top corners to ever step foot campus. And even though the coaching staff would love to have someone to give Miller serious competition in order to make him a better football player, the only competition that Miller truly faces is Miller himself.

Coach Bowden continuously challenged Miller this spring, making statements that inferred that he wasn't as good as he thought he was and that he was not performing up to his potential. He continuously praised Tye Hill and Robert Reese, but seemingly left Miller out in the cold.

These are tactics a coach will use to better guys like Justin Miller.

Why you ask? Because in reality, a guy like Justin Miller faces no real competition at all.

Fortunately, the tactics worked, as Miller turned up the intensity over the last week and a half of the spring ball and began to become more of an impact player.

And that brings us to the following conclusion involving Miller's current position on the team: the right cornerback position is locked down. In fact, there's simply no doubting that.

However, the other side of the field is a completely different story.

Tye Hill quickly became a fan favorite last year as he made the tough transition from running back to starting corner. Clemson fans appreciated the hard work and quick improvement that Hill showed throughout the season. Looking back, Hill proved that he could run with some of the fastest receivers in the ACC, and even showed the ability to break on the ball once it was in the air.

The downside to Hill is that he was repeatedly out-muscled by bigger receivers and he failed to get in position to make big plays, which ultimately led to costly touchdowns in losses to Maryland and N.C. State. Hill also lacks the ability to consistently get off blocks and provide run support.

In the grand scheme of things, Hill provides what amounts to an adequate cornerback opposite of Justin Miller. The problem is, that in the new ACC, adequate just won't be enough.

Defensive Coordinator John Lovett now has to be on the lookout for guys that can make things happen on the defensive side of the ball. He needs guys that will make the jarring hit or go up challenge wide receivers in the air.

These types of guys have been in the Miami Hurricane secondary in recent years. Guys like Sean Taylor, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle and many others that have not only been good defenders, but they also have the ability to make something happen to change the outcome of a game.

C.J. Gaddis is this type of athlete.

He is the type of guy that can turn the game from the defensive side of the ball and Lovett knows this. And this fall, the Clemson coaching staff will give Gaddis every opportunity possible to crack the starting lineup.

They have made it obvious that it is not their intentions to leave him sitting on the sideline. Depending on how fast he learns to his assignments, and how fast he learns how to form tackle, Gaddis will be fogging up Tye Hill's rearview mirror, and very well could surpass him for a starting job in the end.

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