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Clemson football freshmen to watch in 2018

With one of the top recruiting classes in the country, the Clemson Tigers are slated for impact from an especially talented group of freshmen. Loaded with veteran talent that makes them national championship contenders, the Tigers are also teeming with young talent on both sides of the ball. Several elite freshmen could potentially serve as X-factors for the Tigers, who are aiming to reach their fourth consecutive College Football Playoff.

The star of Clemson’s 2018 class is quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who put together one of the most impressive careers in the history of Georgia high school football. A native of Cartersville, Lawrence is currently competing with incumbent starting quarterback Kelly Bryant for reps, a battle that could play out over the course of the entire season. Standing at 6 feet 6 inches tall, Lawrence is a colossus with incredible arm strength who could go on to become an all-time great for the Tigers.

Lawrence is not the only top-tier talent on offense in the Tigers’ freshman class. In addition, 6 feet 4 inch tall wide receiver Justyn Ross is poised to have a breakout freshman campaign. The surprise star of Clemson’s fall camp, Ross has already built a reputation for himself as a wideout who can catch just about anything. Fitting in nicely with the Tigers’ athletic receiving corps, Ross could eventually become Lawrence’s favorite target.

As for the defensive front seven, the Tigers boast plenty of incoming talent, including Xavier Thomas, one of the most sought-after recruits. A beastly 260 pound defensive lineman out of Florence, Thomas is an incredible pass rusher who spent his high school career at the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida. Choosing Clemson over South Carolina and other suitors, Thomas is expected to earn play time alongside Clemson’s other talented pass rushers to help form what could be the most dominant defensive front line in the nation.

K.J. Henry, also on the front seven in Clemson’s freshman group, is one of the top defensive ends from his recruiting class. Named a second-team All-American by USA Today, for his outstanding high school career at West Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Henry is an imposing force with the skill to help the Tigers reach the playoffs. 

In addition, linebacker Jake Venables is joining the fray at Clemson. The son of Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Jake Venables produced a stellar linebacking career at nearby D.W. Daniel High School. With 70 tackles during his senior year of high school, Venables established himself as one of the most impressive linebackers in the nation. An adept tackler and driven leader, Venables could very well stake his claim as the next premier Clemson linebacker this season.

Although Travis Etienne is poised to be the workhorse rusher for Clemson this year, freshman Lyn-J Dixon has received rave reviews from Etienne, any members of the Clemson coaching staff. Throughout the preseason, Dixon could be in line to receive his fair share of carries. A speedster with the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, Dixon is in the process of establishing himself as an offensive weapon.

Several other five-star recruits are joining the Tigers’ ranks this year, including skilled offensive tackle Jackson Carman and promising wideout Derion Kendrick. Other notable freshmen include linebacker Mike Jones Jr., defensive lineman Justin Mascoll and cornerbacks Mario Goodrich and Kyler McMichael.

With 16 scholarship freshmen in total, the Tigers are stacked with future superstars. However, several of those youngsters could see quality playing time as soon as this season, with some of the most talented players on the Clemson roster coming in as true freshmen. While impact in the sport of football comes in many forms, from admirable leadership to top-notch statistics, many of these first year players are in position to contribute in several different facets and provide their own special impacts from start to finish of what will likely be a riveting 2018 season for the Clemson Tigers.

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