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Feaster, Carter looking to have breakout year: New players have opportunity to fill roles left vacant by NFL Draft

Ashley Stout, Staff

Redshirt junior Ryan Carter (31) had seven passes defensed and one interception last year. 

Every year it seems like the Clemson football team has to completely rebuild on one side of the ball. 

The defense has spent the last few years on the unfortunate side of that rebuilding process. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables has done a great job making sure none of the holes are left open for long, though.

This year, it is the offense that will have

to retool. 

Losing the starting quarterback, running back, tight end and top two wide receivers really puts a dent in the team chemistry. That isn’t to say that the defense is totally fine — they have their own holes to fill — but the bulk of new faces will be seen on offense, starting with a new quarterback to lead the team.

Along with these new starters are players that have seen some time in the starting rotation, but have yet to make a sizeable impact. Make sure to watch running back Tavien Feaster and cornerback Ryan Carter during the 2017 season. 

Feaster was a highly-touted freshman during the 2016 season who didn’t get enough play time to truly showcase his skillset. In a limited sample size, Feaster rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns for an average of six yards

per rush. 

While those stats seem to indicate a talented rusher, most of them came in garbage time against teams like Syracuse and the South Carolina Gamecocks. 

Feaster still isn’t even projected to be the starting running back though, as both Adam Choice and CJ Fuller have been around for a while. 

Choice, in fact, had the starting job, but tore his ACL and ceded the job to Wayne Gallman.

Also, all of Feaster’s yards have been on the ground so far. Depending on the skill of the new quarterback, Feaster could have a rough time breaking into the rotation if most of the yards will be coming through the air. 

Ryan Carter is the other up-and-coming player. From Grayson High School, Georgia, Carter was redshirted in his freshman year. 

Carter didn’t contribute much in 2014, with just three tackles, but 2015 saw him become more of a fixture in the Clemson defensive back rotation.

His first start came during the ACC Championship game and his second start was in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma. 

Carter has accrued enough big game experience to make a real impact in the secondary. Despite only being 5’9″ and 180 pounds, his athleticism allows him to contend with the bigger wide receivers.

Carter recorded seven passes defensed and one interception in very limited snaps in 2016. We should see his snap count increase in 2017.

“Next man up” has been the Clemson Tigers’ philosophy for the last few years and it has propelled them into the national spotlight. Despite the loss of key players in all phases of the team, Clemson will find the next man up to fill each role and these two players figure to be a big part of that moving forward.

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