Post spring insider: bandit end

CLEMSON - Clemson defensive ends coach Chris Rumph has a very good problem on his hands at the bandit end position.

guy that has started there for the last three years or does he go with the guy that has made the most improvement and is more than good enough to start?

"We have some good problems," Rumph smiled.

The problem is Kevin Alexander has finally come on at bandit end after having a tremendous spring practice.

"Alexander is one of our top 11. He had a great spring," Rumph said. "He is the most improved defensive end that I have on the squad. Just in his growth and knowledge of the game, he has had an outstanding spring."

The problem is Ricky Sapp will be back to full speed after having surgery to repair a torn ACL which he suffered at Virginia last November. All spring, Sapp could be seen running around and doing everything he could to strengthen his knee up, including running the steps to Memorial Stadium during scrimmages.

"He sees what is going on and he sees the competition out there," Rumph said. "He knows those guys are getting better."

Ricky Sapp (6-foot-4, 240 pounds, senior, Bamberg, S.C.)
About: Clemson's best defensive player in terms of putting pressure on the quarterback. Has recorded 20 tackles for a loss the last two seasons and has 26 career tackles for a loss and 11 sacks - the most of any current Tiger. He has played in 36 career games. Suffered a knee injury against Alabama in the first game last year which forced him to miss one game. He later tore his ACL in the first half at Virginia in the 11th game of the season.


Ricky Sapp is hoping to be back to full strength in time for the start of preseason camp after tearing his ACL last year. (Roy Philpott/CUTigers.com)

The positives: Sapp is very fast off the snap. He has tremendous speed and is able to get past most offensive tackles just on speed alone. He is fast enough and small enough to drop back in coverage and cover a running back or tight end in the flats. He is a versatile end that comes with a strong rush with either his hand on the ground, or standing up.

The negatives: He has a tendency to get blown off the ball and isn't always able to maneuver inside when a tackle is able to contain him on the outside. His knee will be a question as well. Will his speed be affected by the injury and will it limit his ability to cut inside or spin off a blocker.

Kevin Alexander (6-foot-3, 255 pounds, senior, Raiford, Fla.)
About: He started 10 games last season and finished the year with 34 tackles, including three tackles for a loss and 7 quarterback pressures. He has played in 39 games and has never missed a game in his career. He is also being talked about in a possible move to linebacker.

The positives: Is one of the strongest guys on the team, plus works out more than any other player. Last year he played more as a true defensive end and did okay. He has good speed off the edge and is strong enough to fight off blocks and get to the ball carrier or quarterback. He has very good football instincts.

The negatives: He does a great job putting himself in position to make plays, but also takes himself out of plays too much. Has a knack for knowing where the play is coming, but in most cases he overruns the play and misses.

Kourtnei Brown (6-foot-4, 240 pounds, junior, Charlotte, N.C.)
About: Really started to come around the last half of last season. Played in all 13 games and recorded at least one tackle in each. He finished the season with 21 tackles, including two tackles for a loss to go with seven quarterback pressures. Recorded three tackles and a tackle for a loss in 20 snaps against Nebraska in the Gator Bowl.

The positives: Has very good speed as an edge rusher. Is also good in space and has the ability to play down or up depending on the scheme and the coverage.

The negatives: He needs to get stronger. Several times he was just blown off the ball last year and sometimes he was unable to bring down the physical runners after making contact. Has a problem fighting off blocks and getting inside to rush the passer.

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