Amazingly enough, for a second-straight season, a pair of seniors will be starting at cornerback for the Tigers.
Marcus Gilchrist, Mr. Everything for Kevin Steele's defense, will man one-side with the imposing Byron Maxwell on the other.
"Of course, when you lose two three year starters like (Butler and Chancellor) you're going to think there's a need to fill those roles," Gilchrist said. "I think the guys that we have now are very productive and they've all got experience. Our depth is incredible."
That depth starts with him and Maxwell.
In 2009, Gilchrist played more snaps than anyone else on defense (902) and was second on the team with 100 tackles.
His role last season was split between corner, nickel back (called ‘Star' in Steele's system) and safety. Steele loves that versatility.
"It'd be like saying that a lady married a guy who was great at yard work, could fix all the house, do the plumbing, electricity, fix anything that went wrong and he's got a great job that makes good money outside of the home," Steele said. "He can just kind of do it all. That's a good thing."
He attributes Gilchrist's wide-range of skills to his days as a quarterback.
"He took that mentality to defense. Quarterbacks have to know the whole package. When he learned his position, he learned everything, because that's the way he's used to learning," Steele said. "As a quarterback, I had to know what everybody was doing. That's just how he's learned it."
Gilchrist said he was taught the importance of being a versatile defensive back at a young age.
"I should be able to play any four of those positions back there," he said. "I feel like I can play any position back there in the secondary."
In all 14 games a season ago, Maxell (6-1, 200) played 311 snaps, registered 21 tackles and had five pass break ups.
"(Maxwell) is just a big, strong guy that can run," Steele said. "He's played a lot of ball. He gives us some confidence."
But it hasn't been the kind of experience that Maxwell expected, or wanted before beginning his Clemson career.
For the past three seasons, the fifth-year senior has patiently bought his time as a reserve behind Butler and Chancellor.
"Sometimes the team has to override the individual. I had to view it like that," Maxwell said. "That was best for the team. That's how we did it."
"Now that I'm starting, I appreciate it so much more."
Tigers still experienced at CB
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