It's not the sexiest position on the team, but a punter with a strong leg and the ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory could go a long way in assisting Clemson's defense in becoming one of the best in the country this year. Zimmerman, now a sophomore, has demonstrated he's up to the task throughout preseason camp, showing ample leg strength and get-off time while being challenged by Richard Jackson.
Again, it's not a position many people are talking about right now but imagine how important he will be in Clemson's second game of the year at Georgia Tech. Establishing good field position against the ground game of Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets could mean everything if the Tigers are to win their first ACC tilt.
#4. DT JAMIE CUMBIE
Listed as a second team defensive tackle, Cumbie gives the Tigers a quicker step in the interior and a nice change of pace from the massive Jarvis Jenkins. Coming off a wrist injury, he's also hungry to live up expectations as a four-star prospect and ready to make a significant contribution in Kevin Steele's defense.
Jamie Cumbie, now a red-shirt junior, should give the Tigers a nice boost of energy as a reserve defensive tackle behind Jarvis Jenkins.
#3. C DALTON FREEMAN
Freeman has quietly pushed Mason Cloy for the starting center position throughout preseason camp and figures to see significant reps throughout the 2009 season as a red-shirt freshman. With long arms and a nasty demeanor on the field, Freeman could also provide help at guard if needed in a pinch.
But his primary position this year will be in the middle of Clemson's line, where the coaching staff now has two legitimate options for the first time in several years.
#2. SS JONATHAN MEEKS
Identified early on as a likely candidate to avoid a red-shirt, freshman safety Jonathan Meeks has actually exceeded expectations up this point in preseason camp showing strong cover skills and the ability to provide solid run support. Look for Meeks to see the field as a strong safety behind DeAndre McDaniel while also possibly gaining additional reps in Clemson's nickel package.
At 6-2, 205 pounds, Meeks and fellow freshman Corico Hawkins are the two most physically ready first-year players on Clemson's 2009 roster.
#1. TE DWAYNE ALLEN
It's hard not to get excited watching a player with Allen's size move with the agility he possesses. And while he's currently buried on the depth chart behind one of the more underrated players in the ACC in Michael Palmer and also Durrell Barry, Allen may be hard to keep off the field after he establishes himself as a pass-catching threat in Clemson's no-huddle attack.
The 6-3, 245 pound red-shirt freshman was one of the most highly recruited tight ends in the country two years ago and given Clemson's new focus on the tight end in its 2009 offense, he could develop into a big-play threat quicker than anybody that covers the program expects.
He's also grown up from his spring practice tantrum when he voiced his displeasure with how he was being used.
Simply put, he's ready, all he needs to do is be put in a position to make a play.
It may not happen early on, but don't be surprised if the rest of the league is talking about Dwayne Allen and his future with the Tigers by the end of the year.