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The Tiger

Making an Impact

Savannah N. Miller, Contributor

Mike Williams (7) wil return to the team this season after uffering a season-ending neck injury in the first game last year.

The Clemson Tigers football team is teeming with talent this season, with All-American candidates on both sides of the ball. However, there are also several players on the depth chart who are still flying surreptitiously under the radar at the start of the 2016 campaign. These impact players may serve as vital members of the team this season and could also help push the Tigers to a national title.

True freshman wideout Cornell Powell has turned heads during fall camp, using his impressive speed and playmaking ability to make an impact early on. Despite the fact that the wide receiver position is Clemson’s most talent-laden spot on the roster, there is a relative lack of size there. Starting wideout Mike Williams is 6’4”, but, Williams excluded, Clemson’s wide receiver corps is not particularly tall. Therefore, the 6’ 1” Powell could potentially become one of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s favorite downfield targets this season.

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Richard Yeargin will likely start the season off as a back-up, but he could earn some starting time if his play impresses the coaching staff in the early portion of the season. The 6’ 5” 260-pound pass rusher was an All-American in high school and has been patiently garnering experience as a member of that stacked defensive line that Clemson has sported in recent years. Recent first-round NFL Draft pick Shaq Lawson did not become a regular starter until his junior year, which was his only year as a regular starter at Clemson, so Yeargin is in a good position.

Redshirt junior linebacker Dorian O’Daniel has waited patiently in the wings during his tenure at Clemson for his chance to shine on defense. Arguably Clemson’s best special teams tackler this past season, O’Daniel will look to translate that special teams success into defensive prosperity this season. Positioned to serve as a regular starter at linebacker for the first time in his collegiate career, O’Daniel could be the X factor of the Tiger defense.

Redshirt junior defensive back Ryan Carter will undoubtedly be a key cog in Clemson’s inexperienced secondary this season, and his veteran leadership abilities will no doubt prove invaluable this fall. In addition to playing as a defensive back, Carter suited up as wide receiver in high school and has rotated between the cornerback and safety spots since arriving at Clemson. Slated to play mostly corner this year, Carter could use his heady style of play and solid coverage skills to bolster the secondary.

All in all, Clemson boasts a remarkable roster, containing the perfect mixture of talent and experience. While the defense is more youthful and inexperienced than the offense, there are multiple players on the defensive side of the ball who could make unexpectedly large waves this season. 

As for the offense, role players will be vital, as the superstars cannot shoulder the pressure that comes with this much-anticipated Clemson Tigers football season by themselves. Talent is amok in Tiger Town, a theme of the Dabo Swinney head coaching era, and it could help make for the most special season in the history of the illustrious program. 

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