Grading the 2009 class - defense

The second of a two-part series grading Clemson's 2009 recruiting class. Today we take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

DE: A-
Malliciah Goodman is a rare prospect that has the talent, frame, and attitude to be a complete player at his position with NFL first-round potential. Being an early enrollee, he should contribute immediately and be a special player. However, the Tigers failed to land a weak side end for the second straight year, putting the staff behind the eight ball for the 2010 cycle as they will need to land not just one, but likely two players here.

DT: D-
In one of the stronger years in the southeast at this position, the Tigers failed to land one. Losing out on Mackey (who would have likely slid inside) hurt a ton. However, the Orange and Purple didn't lose much at the position. Add in the emergence of Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins inside, and I can sleep a little easier at night. However, this must be the number one position of priority in the coming cycle to shore up depth and talent issues.

LB: B-
Corico Hawkins is a solid player at the middle LB position, if a bit undersized. Spencer Shuey was a great late pick-up that bumped this rating out of the C's. The throwback player put on a show at the Shrine Bowl and garnered a lot of attention before all was said and done. The best of the group is likely Quandon Christian. Long arms, lanky build, and a rangy stride could make him a sideline to sideline force once he fills out and adds some needed bulk and muscle. Losing the most talented player, Fields, to academics was a big blow. Like OT, the Tigers ended up bridesmaids once again for a franchise backer. Last year Harris stayed at home and this year Jarvis Jones dropped Clemson from being a nearly a year long leader due to the coaching change.

CB: D-
At a position where the Tigers could afford to be selective, this is one area where the staff showed too much restraint. Clemson likely needed one CB for depth issues…not for this year, but for the years coming where there is going to be a ton of turnover. Starting to stock the shelves now would have been ideal, but the staff fell victim to a terrible set of circumstances that led to missing out on a few solid prospects down the stretch. To be on the safe side, I'd like to see at least two corners sign with the paw in the coming year.

S: C+
We desperately needed two safeties and signed only one. Despite bringing in 4 prospects at the position last year, I expect only two to remain there, and one is rehabbing a knee injury. The depth is scary thin on campus and landing physically ready prospects was a priority. Losing Craig Loston and Devonte Holloman were huge blows, but landing Meeks was a top-flight get. I fully expect Jonathan Meeks to be on the two-deep and push for a starting job as a freshman. The Tigers will once again find themselves needing to sign at least one and likely two more prospects here.

The Tigers elected to offer two prospects as athletes. Tyler Shatley was taken early in the process and could end up playing FB, H-back, TE, or DT. He was less impressive than originally anticipated in camp, but has a tremendous attitude and work ethic. He should contribute on special teams and may be a role player down the line. At the last minute, Dabo choose to green light Darrell Smith and signed the Gadsden athlete. Smith could play either TE or DE depending on his growth. A long-term project, Smith has good raw athleticism and should provide depth, but needs lots of polishing. Top Stories