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.
DT- DeShawn Williams
Clemson has long had a rich tradition at the interior defensive line positions. In recent history the Tigers have had a pipeline to the NFL, with many former players going on to long successful NFL careers. The first name that comes to mind for many is William “Refrigerator” Perry, who after being named a consensus All-American at Clemson, went on to a championship career, winning the 1985 Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears. Michael Dean Perry, William’s brother, also starred for the Tigers and went on to a long successful NFL career. Other Tigers defensive linemen who went on to successful NFL careers are the late Chester McGlockton, Brenston Buckner, and Trevor Pryce. Perry, Eason, and Price have all won a Super Bowl title in their respective careers. Recently, Clemson has reopened that pipeline to the NFL with the likes of Nick Eason, Dorell Scott, Jarvis Jenkins, and Brandon Thompson. DeShawn Williams looks to potentially be the next Tiger interior defensive lineman to make a name for himself.
Williams, a sophomore from Central, South Carolina came to Clemson from the same high school that produced former Tiger defensive tackle and current Washington Redskin, Jarvis Jenkins. Williams looks to follow in the footsteps of not only Jenkins, but also other former Tiger greats, becoming a force for the Tigers, then hopefully in the NFL. The 2012 season will be Williams’s first great chance to make an impact. After spending the 2011 season as a backup to Rennie Moore, Williams is penciled in as the starter on a defense that hopes to help lead the Tigers to back-to-back ACC Championships. Williams appeared as a freshman for the Tigers first ACC Championship in 20 years.
When the Tigers last won in 1991, there was a familiar face to Williams on the roster. His father, Ronald, was a running back for the Tigers from 1990-92. Williams looks to do something his father did not do, win multiple ACC Championships as a Tiger. Entering the fall, Williams looks to be a key part of a young Clemson defensive line.
In 2011, Williams appeared in all 14 games, starting versus Wake Forest. In those 14 games, Williams played in 138 snaps, recording 20 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. He will look to continue to improve in 2012 and become a dominant force in the middle for the Tigers. DeShawn Williams always seemed to rise to the occasion in 2011, playing his best games in some of the Tigers biggest contests of the season. His best game came in the ACC Championship, a game that saw him record four tackles including a tackle for loss. He will look to continue his strong play following a great spring practice. A spring that saw him not only mature as a player, but also as a leader on the defensive line, a leader that a young group of interior defensive linemen will need.
If Williams can make an immediate impact in the middle, it will take pressure off of the rest of the defense. His ability to not only stop the run, but also push the pocket will be key for new coordinator Brent Venables and his defensive scheme. We fully expect Williams to have a big season, if he continues to improve and play with a high motor and football IQ, he has the chance to be the next great Clemson interior defensive lineman to make a name for himself. The 2012 season looks to be just the start of a bright future for Williams.