Projecting the starters on defense

Less than a month before the start of camp, CUTigers takes a close look at the potential 11 starters on defense.

Led by senior safety DeAndre McDaniel, the Tigers' unit will be under the direction of second-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

CUTigers lists projected starters for the Sept. 4 opener against North Texas, a quick hit on the position and the official Clemson depth chart listing following the end of spring practice:

Put the first round projections on hold - junior defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has a lot to prove on the field before declaring for next year's draft.
DE - Da'Quan Bowers

QUICK HIT: It only seems like yesterday when Bowers was coming to Clemson as one of the top-rated defensive ends in the nation- now he's a junior and eligible for the draft after the season. The Clemson staff has issued a challenge for Bowers to work harder during the summer before his junior season. Heading into camp, it's his spot to lose. His three sacks as a sophomore are tied for the most returning in 2010, but exponentially more is expected of him this season if the Clemson defense is going to become one of the nation's best.

1. Da'Quan Bowers
2. Malliciah Goodman

DT - Jarvis Jenkins

QUICK HIT: Trimmed down from the end of the 2009 season, Jenkins has locked down the position. That grip is even stronger with Jamie Cumbie's dismissal from the team. An early round candidate in next year's draft, Jenkins is being mentioned as one of the top returning tackles in the league this year.

1. Jarvis Jenkins
2. Rennie Moore

NG - Brandon Thompson

QUICK HIT: Miguel Chavis was listed as the co-starter with Thompson coming out of spring practice. Defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks said Chavis' spring work was as good as anyone in the group. Chavis will get his snaps, but not as many as Thompson will this fall.

1. Brandon Thompson or Miguel Chavis
2. Tyler Shatley

Andre Branch has emerged as a quiet playmaker for Kevin Steele and company.
BANDIT - Andre Branch

QUICK HIT: Branch forced his way onto the field last year, taking snaps away from senior Ricky Sapp, who was taken in the NFL Draft this spring. He ended up tied for fourth on the team in tackles for loss with eight. Oddly enough, Branch played at least 130 snaps less than everyone on the team with more TFL.

1. Andre Branch
2. Kourtnei Brown

The emotional leader of the Clemson defense, Brandon Maye must continue to play under control to reach his full potential.
WLB - Brandon Maye

QUICK HIT: Last year's starter at middle linebacker is listed as the post-spring co-starter with Jonathan Willard. Maye was limited during the spring because of a bowl practice injury and is expected to be fully recovered once camp opens. Tied with Bowers as the team's leader in returning sacks (three).

1. Brandon Maye or Jonathan Willard

MLB - Corico Hawkins

QUICK HIT: After filling in nicely for Maye during the bowl game against Kentucky, Hawkins held onto the starting job through spring practice with Maye's injury and figures to be intrumental in Clemson's improvement aqainst the running game.

1. Corico Hawkins
2. Spencer Shuey

OLB - Quandon Christian

QUICK HIT: The SAM linebacker group's most athletic member, Christian, was named the post-spring starter with Scotty Cooper out for most of the practice with an injury. In need of a solid summer, Cooper's development this summer was likely hindered, setting him further behind Christian.

1. Quandon Christian
2. Scotty Cooper
3. Daniel Andrews

Marcus Gilchrist, aka Mr. Versatility, will play multiple roles in the Clemson secondary again in 2010.
CB - Marcus Gilchrist

QUICK HIT: He's Clemson's top returning tackler from a year ago (107). Gilchrist, the most versatile member of the Clemson defense, found himself at several different spots throughout the secondary last fall. The emergence of reliable third and fourth corners will allow Steele to use Gilchrist freely, like he did in 2009.

1. Marcus Gilchrist
2. Xavier Brewer

CB - Byron Maxwell

QUICK HIT: Big and physical, Maxwell had to patiently wait his turn after entering Clemson as a highly touted prospect. He finally gets the opportunity to start this fall.

1. Byron Maxwell
2. Coty Sensabaugh
3. Spencer Adams

DeAndre McDaniel could be used closer to the line of scrimmage at times in 2010.
S - DeAndre McDaniel

QUICK HIT: Simply put, McDaniel is one of the nation's top safeties and could cement himself as a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft with a strong season. The problem is after recording eight interceptions a year ago, he won't see the football thrown his way half as much this coming season. Don't be surprised to see him used more in run support this season, playing closer to the line of scrimmage.

1. DeAndre McDaniel
2. Jonathan Meeks.

S - Rashard Hall

QUICK HIT: Hall emerged onto the scene after a stellar red-shirt freshman season in 2009 that saw him grab six interceptions. Athletic and rangy, his ceiling is unlimited playing in Kevin Steele's scheme.

1. Rashard Hall
2. Carlton Lewis

Note: Depth charts, both official and unofficial are subject to change once camp and practice begin next month. Top Stories