With players like Justin Miller, Tye Hill, and Jamaal Fudge roaming around the defensive backfield the last two seasons, the Tigers have had the luxury of putting significant speed, experience, and talent on the field at almost every position in the secondary.
In 2005, things may be somewhat changing.
For starters, Clemson has to deal with the loss of CB Justin Miller (NFL) and FS Travis Pugh (graduation), who have both moved on.
In addition, there are holes at the cornerback position in particular, because of Miller's departure, and also because of C.J. Gaddis' move from cornerback to free safety.
In fact, after starter Tye Hill, only Sergio Gilliam returns any game day experience at cornerback, and he only played a total of 83 snaps last season.
Enter Chris Clemons and Brandon Croley, two redshirt freshmen defensive backs who will likely be thrusted into the spotlight later this fall.
Both players played their high school football in Florida, and both players appear to be poised to make a significant contribution to the Clemson defense.
"I think me and Brandon are learning what's going on and doing pretty good," said Clemons. "It's just a lot of learning going out there right now, so we are kind of taking it all in."
Clemons has been practicing mostly with the second team, but Croley saw some reps with the first team during the Tigers' first official scrimmage of spring practice last weekend.
"Pretty much right now, I'm running with the second team, but sometimes I'm rotating in with the one's," said Croley. "That's how it went in the scrimmage Saturday. For me, I'm just trying to get better everyday."
As far as the first scrimmage goes, so far so good for both players.
"It went pretty good," said Croley. "We both got a lot of reps and I think we did good when we were in there."
Clemons said, "I need to work on staying low more. That's something we talk about a lot. And also just not making mistakes and learning all the plays."
These two defensive backs are not only making a push for playing time as redshirt freshmen, they are also moving up the depth chart while learning an entirely different system in just their second year in the program.
"It's not really that tough to do," said Croley. "But its like you have to learn all this new terminology and new plays. And it takes time. We know that."
Unfortunately, time is not on the Tigers' side.
With spring practice halfway complete, both Croley and Clemons have just a handful of days to continue to prove their worth.
"We just can't mess up on the wrong things, and keep on doing what the coaches tell us to do," said Croley. "That's basically it. Hopefully good things will happen."
Clemons, Croley Ready to Contribute
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