The Clemson Insider gives a scouting report on every player on Clemson’s summer depth chart. We will break down what the player does best, what he needs to work on, how he compares to other former players at his position and where he fits on the Clemson roster.
Player name: Xavier Kelly (6-4, 265)
Player position: Defensive end
Years left of eligibility: 4 years
Current rank on depth chart: Second team
Player productivity so far: Kelly was redshirted in 2016
What player does best: The coaching staff compared Kelly a lot to Clelin Ferrell last summer, saying he was both physically and mentally ready to play. The two are built very similar and are very athletic.
What player needs to work on: Kelly was having a good fall camp and there was conversation of playing him in 2016, until he hit a wall late in camp, which was due in large part to a minor head injury he suffered in a moped accident. The accident set him back and ultimately the coaching staff decided to redshirt him so he could get healthy, learn a little more and be ready to be a contributor this coming season.
Productivity of former Clemson players at the position:
Vic Beasley, 2012: He played in 13 games and tallied 18 tackles. However, 8 were sacks and he had 8 quarterback pressures to go with two deflected passes.
Vic Beasley, 2014: He was a consensus first-team all-American with 37 tackles, including 21.5 tackles for loss. He also had 12 sacks and 9 quarterback pressures and three deflected passes. He also had three caused fumbles and one he returned for a touchdown.
Shaq Lawson, 2013: He played in 13 games and tallied 35 tackles, including 10 for loss. He also had four sacks and 9 quarterback pressures.
Shaq Lawson, 2015: He finished fourth on the team with 88 tackles. He led the nation with 25.5 tackles for loss and was second in sacks with 12.5. He was a First-Team All-American.
Kevin Dodd, 2015: In his only year as a starter, Dodd tallied 68 tackles, including 23.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He also had one deflected pass. He had five of his 12 sacks in the College Football Playoff, including three against Alabama in the national championship game. He was named First-Team All-ACC.
Christian Wilkins, 2016: The defensive tackle moved outside to become an all-American at defensive end. He totaled 56 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss. He also had 10.5 sacks, deflected 10 passes and had 20 quarterback pressures.
What can you hope for? You hope Kelly comes out and plays like Clelin Ferrell did after a redshirt year that was primarily due to injury.
What is a realistic expectation? With Richard Yeargin (neck) out for the year, Kelly moves up to second team. It is very realistic to see him become a productive reserve player that can play on either side at defensive end.
What about the future? The future looks very bright for Kelly at defensive end where the coaches think he has an opportunity to become a star like those before him. With Ferrell and Bryant likely gone at the end of the season, if they have the kind of years everyone is expecting them to, then Kelly will move up the depth chart and will be expected to be a starter in 2018.
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