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Clemson football 2018 defensive line preview

KIM MONTUORO // Asst. Photo Editor
d line pic

At the beginning of every college football season, there is usually some bad news, often in the form of a star-studded veteran who has jumped to the pro’s. Luckily, there is only good news this year for the Tigers as the defensive line for the Clemson is manned by a pair of returning defensive ends, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, and a pair of returning defensive tackles, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins. These seasoned players that are expected to lay waste to any and all teams that entertain the notion of rushing against the Tigers this year. 

All four players are not only familiar with Defensive Coordinator, Brent Venables’ schemes but are equipped to thrive in them. With another year of experience and coaching under their belts, the group is being touted as the best in the nation and perhaps the greatest in the history of collegate football. 

All four players, Wilkins, Lawrence, Ferrell and Bryant, rank inside the top 25 of ESPN’s top 50 players for the upcoming 2018 season (at #4, #5, #12 and #24 respectively). All four players are also likely candidates for first-round selections in the NFL draft. 

 Just think — on separate teams, each one of these players would be the anchor of the defense and the catalyst for nearly every defensive play, swinging possessions and games as they attack quarterbacks and running backs. Together on the same team, they form a multi-headed monster that lives to eat offenses alive.

Ferrell led the team in sacks last year with 9.5 recorded sacks and was a reliable option in pass coverage. With a 6 – foot – 4 frame, enormous wingspan and an exceptional sense of anticipation, Ferrell is often the first player out of his stance, exploding behind the offensive line before they even have a chance to entertain the thought of stopping him. Last year was his breakout season and this year should be the one that makes him a household name. 

Bryant is a freakish athlete, even as far as top-tier college athletes go. At 280 pounds, he has the strength to bust straight through his matchup, but he still has an incredible amount of speed and agility that allows him to turn on a dime and chase down quarterbacks on the run.

Lawrence is the big man on campus. At 340 pounds, he is the largest player on Clemson’s roster. Built like an eighteen-wheeler, Lawrence can often be seen tossing opposing linemen around like ragdolls. Because of his size and power, Lawrence is regularly a commander of double teams. This tactic rarely works as a method of slowing down Lawrence, and often affords his fellow linemen more room to operate. 

Wilkins is the anchor of this defensive line. He already has his undergraduate degree and is a sure-fire first round pick in the next NFL draft. An explosive athlete and worl class talent, Wilkins hits every checkmark you could possibly have for a defensive tackle. Smart, powerful, vocal, agile and intense, Wilkins’ numbers might not jump off of the page like some of the other defensive ends this season, but in the biggest moments of the biggest games, you will know that it was Wilkins who made the hit. 

Intelligent, instinctual and athletic, these linemen would be extraordinary talents wherever they played. Under the tutelage of the brightest defensive mind in the country, though, Clemson’s defensive line has the resume to be considered the best in the country. Where they stack up against the all-time greats remains to be seen, but as far as other schools are concerned, these four players might as well be the four horsemen of the apocalypse.


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