With Ben Boulware now off and getting ready for the NFL Draft, redshirt junior Kendall Joseph becomes the quarterback of Clemson’s nationally ranked defense.
In his first year as a starter, Joseph (6-4, 235) soared as he finished second on the team with 124 tackles and tied for the team lead with 13.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He also had 3.5 sacks and added 16 quarterback pressures.
Joseph and Boulware combined to make up one of the best linebacker duos in the country. Six times last year, Joseph had at least 10 tackles in a game. In the national championship game against Alabama, he had nine tackles from his middle linebacker position, including 2.5 tackles for loss. His best game came against Auburn in the season opener where he tallied 14 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack.
He also had double digit tackles against Louisville (11), Boston College (10), NC State (10), Wake Forest (11) and Virginia Tech (11).
Tre Lamar: The former five-star recruit was primarily a backup in the middle of the defense last season as he played in all 15 games as a reserve middle linebacker. Lamar (6-3, 240) also played on special teams. As a true freshman, he played 102 snaps as a backup to Joseph as he had 22 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He also had seven tackles on special teams.
Chad Smith: A lot like Boulware, Smith (6-4, 235) plays with a chip on his shoulder which he demonstrated with his team-high 10 special teams tackles. He will also work at middle linebacker in the spring. He played in 14 games during the Tigers’ run to a national championship. He recorded 19 tackles overall.
Judah Davis: He played in 13 games last season, mostly on special teams. Davis (6-1, 235) had six tackles in all, while playing just 25 snaps. He had three tackles on special teams. He is the twin brother of J.D. Davis, who will be vying for playing time at weakside backer. They are the sons of former 1981 All-American linebacker Jeff Davis, who guided Clemson to the 1981 National Championship.
—Above photo: Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois (12) is sacked by Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph (34) during Clemson’s win this past fall at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. (photo by Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)
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