It’s hard to imagine how much better Clemson can be on the defensive line than it has been the last four years, but it can be. In fact, the Tigers’ 2017 addition might be the best one yet.
Of course, we all know the names. There is Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. Together they make up a pretty salty defensive front. However, the guys behind them are not too bad either.
There is defensive tackles Albert Huggins, defensive end Xavier Kelly, defensive end Chris Register, defensive end Richard Yeargin, defensive tackle Jabril Robinson, defensive tackle Albert Huggins, defensive tackle Sterling Johnson and defensive end Lasamuel Davis.
But of all the younger players, the name that came up the most in all of Brent Venables and Dabo Swinney’s conversations this spring was defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney.
“He is young, but he is doing well,” Swinney said.
In Clemson’s two main scrimmages this spring, Pinckney played well. He led the Tigers in tackles for loss and had a couple of sacks in the first scrimmage and then in the second scrimmage he was very disruptive despite not having a tackle. He also had four tackles and a sack in the spring game.
“He is one of those guys that are earning our trust,” Swinney said.
Pinckney (6-1, 295) began earning the coaching staffs trust last fall during his redshirt season. He was named the scout-team player of the week five times on defense, the most among any of the scout team players. Former defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks was impressed with Pinckney’s development during his time with the scout team. He said he always kept an eye on him because he felt he can really develop into a good player for the Tigers in the future.
So far, though the spring, that has held true. After working his tail off to get in better physical shape this winter, he worked his tail off on the practice fields and in the meeting rooms to be a better player.
“He is not ready to go and play 50 snaps yet, but he is showing us and proving to us this spring that he will be a guy that can help us, if he puts the work in this summer and continue to build on the foundation he has laid this spring,” Swinney said. “He can be a guy that can help us.”