The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Impact Players: Underrated Difference Makers

Getting off to a hot start in the 2018 slate, the 4-0 Clemson Tigers have performed well all over the field thus far. From the quick ascension of freshman phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence to the continued pass-rushing dominance of Christian Wilkins, the Tigers boast a multitude of All-ACC candidates. Running back Travis Etienne and wide receiver Tee Higgins have burst onto the scene in a big way to start the season, too. However, aside from the star players, Clemson boasts a sizable group of underrated difference makers that have proven to be X-factors for the Tigers in their undefeated run up to this point.

One such difference maker has been senior linebacker J.D. Davis. The son of former Clemson great Jeff Davis and identical twin brother of fellow current Clemson linebacker Judah Davis, J.D. has come on strong since the beginning of last season, gradually earning more playing time and making an impact along the way. A tackling machine, Davis has tallied an abundance of tackles in several contests since the midway point of the 2017 schedule. In Clemson’s 49-21 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday, Davis led all players with 10 combined tackles, eight of which were solo. He also came up with his first sack of the season. An athletic linebacker with a knack for finding the ball, Davis is making a huge difference on the field in his final season as a Tiger.

While Davis is a veteran difference maker, Clemson has reaped the benefits of having several young difference makers on the roster this year, too. With arguably the most talented receiving corps in the nation, the Tigers have lived up to the billing of “Wide Receiver U” early on this season. In addition to proven talents, such as Hunter Renfrow, Amari Rodgers and the aforementioned Higgins, burgeoning wideouts have also made names for themselves while suiting up for Clemson in September, with freshman Justyn Ross being one of them. At 6-foot-4, Ross is impossible to miss when he blazes down the field running his routes. Sporting remarkable speed and agility, Ross, who came on strong in fall camp and earned substantial playing time as a result, has consistently eluded defenders in open space and already has three receiving touchdowns to his name. A human highlight reel, Ross has been very impressive to start off his Clemson career.

In the defensive backfield, jack-of-all-trades safety K’Von Wallace has made his mark in the early stage of his junior campaign. Coming up with one of the best all-around performances of any Clemson defensive player so far this season in Clemson’s 28-26 triumph against the Texas A&M Aggies earlier this year, Wallace tabbed seven tackles and forced two fumbles. He also made up for a few dropped interceptions by picking off a pass in the end zone to prevent the Aggies from scoring on a potential game-tying two-point conversion. Sporting the ball skills of a cornerback and the hard-hitting ability of a safety, Wallace has been a part of several critical defensive stops to assuage the previous doubts regarding the somewhat undersized strong safety’s ability to successfully compete in the starting lineup.

Throughout Clemson’s recent run of prosperity, one of the strengths of the Tigers has been depth. Currently in great shape to reach their fourth straight College Football Playoff, Clemson has greatly benefited from its depth in the first leg of the 2018 season. Featuring new star performers week in and week out, the Tigers have established themselves as a matchup nightmare for opponents, as the star power from top to bottom of the Clemson roster makes the playmaking possibilities on both sides of the ball virtually limitless. In the case of Davis, Ross and Wallace, their versatile skill sets and high-motor playing styles have culminated in them establishing reputations for themselves as difference makers for one of college football’s best and brightest teams. Furthermore, through their dedication and impactful play, these three gems of the Clemson roster should not remain underrated for much longer.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *