2011 Defensive Class Preview

2011 Defensive Class Preview


2011 Defensive Class Preview


Now that the 2011 recruiting class is complete we wanted to breakdown the 2011 class and preview the impact of this great class.  Today Keith takes a look at the Tiger’s 2011 defensive class. 

The defensive class includes the nation’s top linebacker class thanks to signing day editions of Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony.


Roderick Byers, 6’4” 260 lbs., Rock Hill Northwestern

Ratings:  Consensus 3 stars

Positives:  Great size, has longs arms, uses his hands really well, strong against the run

Needs to work on: Needs to work on pass rushing skills, can get a little quicker off the snap

Upside:  When Clemson goes after defensive and offensive lineman the biggest thing they seem to look for is size, because you cannot teach size.  Byers already has good size and a great defensive ends frame, he will definitely benefit from coaching at the next level.

Comparison: Malliciah Goodman (Clemson) 

Joe Gore 6’6” 262, Lake Waccamaw (NC)

Ratings:  Consensus 3 stars

Positives:  Very big, good athlete who could move to the offensive line or play inside at defensive tackle.

Needs to work on: Does not have amazing speed but may not be important if he ends up at another position.

Upside: The Clemson coaching staff plans to put him at defensive end, but I think he will end up on the offensive line.  Either way I think he is a talented player that will succeed where ever he ends up.

Comparison: Shaun Ellis 


Kevin Dodd 6’5” 280 lbs, Greer HS

Ratings:  Consensus 3 stars

Positives: Another big lineman, shows lots of hustle never gives up on a play, holds his weight really well does not look like he is 275+ lbs.

Needs to work on: Played end in high school and will have to get used to the move to the inside, did not dominate on film but definitely has the potential.

Upside: Dodd is another guy that will benefit from coaching at the next level, you can tell he has the skills he just has not put it all together.  Look for Dodd to have an impact in a couple years.

Comparison: Rennie Moore Jr. (Clemson)

 Grady Jarrett 6’0” 280 lbs., Rockdale County

Ratings:  Consensus 3 stars

Positives: Extremely quick off the ball, penetrates and gets up field and causes a lot of problems in the backfield.  Relentless in his pursuit.  Gets off of blocks quickly and does a good job avoiding cut blocks.  Great production.

Needs to work on: Jarrett would probably be a consensus 5 star player if he were 3 or 4 inches taller, will have to adjust to much bigger interior lineman.

Upside: Jarrett may be smaller than a prototypical defensive tackle but I think he could develop into a great interior pass rusher and solid player in Clemson defensive line rotation.

Comparison: Gerald McCoy -Buccaneers (a smaller version)

 Jerome Maybank 6’4” 335 lbs., Waccamaw

Ratings:  Consensus 3 stars

Positives: Looks huge on film, very hard to block or move, could end up on the offensive line.

Needs to work on: May need to lose some weight, not very quick, towered over everyone he went up against, won’t be the case at the college level.

Upside: Maybank takes a few years to develop; he may be a guy that was really good in high school because he was bigger than everyone, so he may need to work on a lot of things.

Comparison: Jamal Williams (Denver Broncos)

 DeShawn Williams 6’1” 300 lbs., Daniel HS

Ratings:  Consensus 3 stars

Positives: Strong and very stout at the point of attack, good awareness always has his head up looking for the ball carrier

Needs to work on: Slow off the snap at times, can be a good pass rusher but is inconsistent with his ability to get in the backfield.

Upside: Probably the most well-rounded defensive lineman in the class, should be a guy that sees playing time early in his career.

Comparison: Peria Jerry (Atlanta Falcons)


Stephone Anthony, 6’3” 220 lbs., Anson HS (NC)

Ratings:  Consensus 5 star

Positives: Great athlete could be a legitimate running back prospect, great speed and quickness, excels in pass coverage, surprisingly good hands, good tackler that wraps up ball carriers.

Needs to work on: Did not need to take on blockers because of his athleticism.    

Upside: I can’t imagine a talent like Anthony not seeing the field in his first year.  He is going to be a scary player when he gets to Clemson and gets even bigger and stronger.

Comparison: Aaron Curry (Seattle Seahawks)

 BJ Goodson 6’ 1” 225 lbs. Lamar HS

Ratings:  Consensus 3 star

Positives: Had the biggest hits of any highlight tape, very physical player, great athlete who played receiver in high school, could play either inside or outside, can line up and rush the passer.

Needs to work on: not many weaknesses stand out, looks impressive.

Upside: I was very surprised at how good Goodson looked in his highlights; very versatile player that I think should at the very least be playing on special teams as a freshman.

Comparison: Kevin Burnett (San Diego Chargers)

 Tony Steward

Ratings:  Consensus 5 star

Positives: Freakish athlete, big hitter who finds a way to explode into ball carriers every time, versatile could play inside or outside linebacker, excels at blitzing

Needs to work on: Coming off an injury as a senior, other than that no too many things he needs tow work on.

Upside: I don’t think anyone will be surprised if he is a 4 year starter.

Comparison: Patrick Willis (San Francisco 49ers)

Lateek Townsend

Ratings:  Consensus 4 star

Positives: Great instincts seems to know where the play is going, hits ball carries going top speed with no regard for his body, fast and excels going sideline to sideline.

Needs to work on:  Did not look like he played in a set system or position in high school was more of a roamer that made plays on his own, could definitely add some more weight to his frame.

Upside: Looks really good on film, if he can add weight and learn from Coach Steele his upside is limitless.

Comparison: Ernie Sims (Philadelphia Eagles)

 Colton Walls 6’2” 225 lbs. Charlotte Latin (NC) 

Ratings:  Consensus 2 star

Positives: Great production, likes to deliver a big hit, hard worker, great bloodlines (dad played for the Panthers), good job taking on blockers, versatile could end up at full back or H-back .

Needs to work on:  Did not play against top competition will have to get used to big competition leap, not the fastest or best athlete.

Upside: Walls is just a football player, he may not be the best player on paper, but he is smart and will make plays.

Comparison: Spencer Shuey (Clemson)


Cortez Davis 6’3” 200 lbs., Mainland HS (FL)

Positives: Great size and speed, ball-hawk who was recruited as a receiver by many teams, will make some great catches.

Needs to work on:  Rare to see a defensive back with his height and physique, will be interesting to see if the Clemson staff puts him at safety (where he may need to add strength) or corner (where he may have trouble against smaller quicker receivers), could get a little more physical.

Upside: Every football team would love to have a guy with Davis skill set and height that can play corner. Clemson could have used the 6’3” Davis last year to match up against South Carolina’s 6’4” Alshon Jeffery, who went off against Clemson.  Davis has a ton of upside and could be a great defensive back for Clemson. 

Comparison: Antonio Cromartie (New York Jets)


Robert Smith, 5’10” 200 lbs., Woodland

Positives: Great athlete, unbelievable production in high school playing quarterback, thick build, excellent acceleration, dangerous with the ball in his hands. 

Needs to work on:  Does not have track star speed, will have to find a new position at the college level.

Upside: It would be great to see Smith on the offensive side of the ball, because he is such a threat as a runner I think he could be a Hines Ward type at receiver, but he will probably end up on defense at safety.  He may take a little while to learn the new position but he is a good enough of an athlete that he should find a way to get on the field wherever he plays.

Comparison: Antrel Rolle (New York Giants)



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