By Heath Bradley.
Over the next few articles we will be detailing players we expect to have their best season as a Tiger to date. While some of these players may already be impact players, we see this season as having the potential to be a career year. A year that could potentially go down in the record books, for others it could be the year that alerts the nation of their presence in Tigertown. Overall, these are five players we expect to make a great impact for the Tigers in 2012.
DE- Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford showed flashes of greatness during his true freshman season of 2011. At 6 foot 5 and 280 pounds he stands to potentially be the next great player in a long list of recent great Clemson defensive ends. During the 2011 season Crawford served as the backup to Andre Branch at the bandit end position. Andre Branch was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, penciling in Crawford as the starter heading into 2012.
In 2011 Crawford appeared in all 14 games for the Tigers. In his 252 snaps he totaled 29 tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures, and two pass breakups. Had one of his best games as a freshman in the ACC Championship versus Virginia tech. In the matchup versus the Hokies, Crawford totaled four tackles in a great performance by the Clemson defense. Crawford totaled 15 of his 29 tackles in 105 snaps over the Tigers four final games of the season.
Crawford will look to continue his improvement after a strong spring practice. Crawford worked hard to get in better shape while adding more muscle to help stop the run. His added size and speed should allow him to be a run stopper while still allowing him to be the pass rushing terror the Clemson defense needs. His ability to put pressure on the quarterback will help a young line that will be featuring three first year starters.
His frame and athletic ability are ideal for the position. Expect him to have some growing pains as a starter but as the season progresses transform into a steady and even dominant player on the young Tiger defense. His ability to make plays is something the defense will need in 2012. The Columbus, Georgia native will look to get in the sack column for the first time in his career, early and often in 2012. If he can rush the passer with consistency it will open up more chances for Malliciah Goodman to disrupt plays from his end position across the line of scrimmage.
While Crawford will also be a first year starter, he has more snaps than the penciled in starting tackles combined. His experience in 2011 will play a key role in his development in 2012. While the Tigers defense will be young it will be very talented, players like Corey Crawford are the reason why.