The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Young stars making plays for Tiger Defense

The fourth-ranked Clemson Tigers are officially ACC Atlantic Division champions and will play for the ACC crown in Orlando two weeks from now. 

Thanks to Saturday’s victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Tigers are now back on the winning track and looking like the team to beat in the ACC again. The old football adage states that “football wins championships,” and, due to the bevy of talented players on the defensive front for Clemson, the Tigers are well on their way to epitomizing that in earnest. Three defensive players in particular have stood out in recent weeks. 

Here is a breakdown of how they have been bolstering the Clemson defense.

Sophomore defensive end Austin Bryant fractured a toe in mid-August, missing a sizable portion of the season because of it. He has since returned to the lineup, accumulating 1.5 sacks in just three games. 

Clemson arguably boasts the most talented defensive line in the nation, and Bryant is a major reason why. Quickly increasing his playing time while turning heads as a freshman, Bryant was considered a likely starter heading into this season. Even though the injury setback hindered his chances of having a breakout 2016 campaign, Bryant is rapidly returning to top form.

With seven combined tackles, including two for a loss, and 1.5 sacks, sophomore linebacker Kendall Joseph led the charge for the Clemson defense in its 35-13 thrashing of Wake Forest. 

As the leading tackler, Joseph, the middle linebacker, was the undisputed field general for the Tigers. This is Joseph’s first season in the starting lineup, and he has answered the bell admirably so far. Starting at middle linebacker for a major college football team is always a tall task, but Joseph has used his uncanny tackling prowess and skilled play disruption ability to take charge and make waves for the Tigers.

As previously mentioned, Clemson’s defensive line is unbelievably talented, so, during the preseason, star freshman defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was not necessarily expected to become a regular starter over the course of his freshman year. However, his fantastic play early on forced head coach Dabo Swinney’s hand in terms of inserting him into the starting lineup. 

Now a starting defensive tackle, Lawrence is a frequent terror for opposing quarterbacks. With four sacks as a true freshman, Lawrence is positioning himself to be Clemson’s leading man in the pass rushing attack for the next few seasons.

The Clemson Tigers are incredibly well-rounded, perhaps more so than any other FBS team, and their multi-talented front seven has played a major role in establishing that reputation. The three aforementioned players, although they may not receive the attention that they rightfully deserve nationally, are superstars in the making and invaluable cogs in the machine that is the Clemson defense.


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 *