Post spring insider: Free safety

CLEMSON - When he did not have that great of a first scrimmage early in the spring, many people kind of wrote Sadat Chambers off as the starting free safety at Clemson.

And why not? He looked bad in that stadium scrimmage as he was out jumped for a touchdown pass by Marquan Jones in the end zone and then was juked out of his shoes by running back Jamie Harper when he was the last man to stand between Harper and a touchdown.

Later on in that scrimmage, he was run over by Chad Diehl in goal line situations that led to another Harper touchdown. But that was just one day. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steel and defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison say you have to look at the whole body of work from the spring and how much Chambers improved from that first scrimmage to the Orange and White game.

"I was very, very pleased with Sadat when you factor in everything," Steele said. "You have to remember, he comes out of Pageland and carried the ball 10 million times and I don't know if he ever played defense. If he did, I never saw tape of him playing defense.

"Then he comes here and he is a running back, DB, running back, then DB and is going back and forth. Well that is hard to do. That's real hard to do. So consequently, I knew that he had talent and I knew he had football instincts, but to apply them at the safety position in a new system, and you have to remember they move him back from offense to defense and then he gets a new staff.

"He applied himself very well over the spring. I'm not going to sit here and say that it is a position to where you sit and say 'oh no.'"

In fact, Chambers made enough progress in the spring that he is list as the starter entering fall camp on the depth chart.

"He made a lot of improvement over the spring because he had not played a lot," Harbison said. "He has taken on some leadership roles, too.

"Now he has not played a game for me, yet, so this summer has to be big for him. And it's not just him; it's for all of these guys. How well he works and tries to improve himself will say a lot. As he goes, we will know more when the ball kicks off."

Sadat Chambers (5-foot-11, 190-pounds, redshirt senior, Pageland, S.C.)
About: A versatile senior defensive back that has lettered twice at safety and once as a running back. He is the frontrunner to take the starting spot at free safety. Has played in 37 career games as a defensive player, special teams player and running back in his career. Has never started a game. Has 31 career tackles.

The positives: He can play just about any position. He is also fast and is knowledge as a college running back should help in making decisions on where the football is going.

The negatives: He has bounced around from position to position in his career and though he is a Jack of all trades, he is a Master of none, including free safety where as a fifth-year he has just a little bit more experience than the two redshirt freshmen below him on the depth chart.

Rashard Hall (6-foot-1, 190 pounds, redshirt freshman, St. Augustine, Fla.)
About: Florida Times-Union First-Team All-First Coast pick. Had eight interceptions and three defensive touchdowns as a senior in high school. Saint John's County Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. First-team all-state and all-county pick as a senior and was rated as the No. 60 safety in the nation by He is the high school teammate of fellow Clemson safety Carlton Lewis, who is second on the depth chart at strong safety.

The positives: Has good speed and good athletic ability. He has great instincts and does a great job recognizing plays.

The negatives: Like a lot of the guys in the secondary is inexperienced and sometimes doesn't trust his instincts enough. Instead of reacting, he finds himself thinking too much.

Spencer Adams (6-foot-1, 180-pounds, redshirt freshman, Matthews, N.C.)
About: Rated as the No. 18 safety in the nation by, he had 246 tackles and four interceptions in his last two years of high school, including 145 tackles as a senior. He also ran track in high school and plans to run at Clemson. He won the indoor national championship in the 60-meter hurdles and holds the state record in the 300-meter hurdles. He was also the Class AAAA state champion in the 110-meter hurdles and won the national championship in the 110 hurdles and the 400 hurdles at the Nike Outdoor Nationals last June. He anchored a record-breaking 4x100 relay team in AAU competition. He was an All-USA Track & Field Hurdler by USA Today.

The positives: He is obviously the fastest player in the secondary and was in position to play last year before tearing his ACL in practice, forcing him to have to redshirt the season. Before then he was making great progress and had good instincts on where to go and was showing signs of his ability to break plays down.

The negatives: The ACL injury cost him more than a season, it also cost him spring practice, which has caused him to fall behind in learning Kevin Steele's new schemes. Will enter the fall as the third string free safety and will have a lot of ground to make up before the season starts. Should be back to full strength by the time camp starts, however, he will not be physically as strong as he would have liked due to not being able to do a full workout session thanks to the injury. Top Stories