By Heath Bradley.
Over the next two days we will detail the top five players on each side of the ball that we feel that Clemson cannot lose in 2012. We feel that if the Tigers lose one of these players, their respective side of the ball will suffer greatly.
#5. Corey Crawford – DE
Just with the sheer depth numbers at defensive end it will be imperative that Crawford can stay on the field. Vic Beasley will serve as the main backup to Crawford entering 2012, while talented, Beasley has not seen the playing time to immediate make an impact if thrown into the starting role. Crawford worked this off-season to become a more physically strong player; hopefully this will allow him to stay healthy as well.
#4. Stephone Anthony – MLB
Anthony has taken over for Corico Wright at MLB. His ability to play fast and strong is something the Tigers have not seen in some time. He is able to make an instant impact as soon as he steps on the field, due to his ability. For the Tigers linebacker corps to greatly improve over their 2011 season, Anthony must stay on the field. His ability as not only a pass rusher but as also as a run stopper is second to none in this linebacker corps.
#3. Interior Defensive Linemen
From a pure numbers and depth standpoint the Tigers cannot afford to lose a starting interior defensive linemen due to injury. With very little in game experience from the entire group, it will be important for the starters who have separated themselves from the pack to stay healthy in 2012.
#2. Xavier Brewer – DB
While there has been some discussion as to where Brewer fits into the secondary entering 2012, his ability and leadership will make sure he finds the field. As one of the most veteran members of this defense his ability to play multiple positions well as well as be a vocal leader on and off the field are exactly what this young defense needs. Expect Brewer to grow in 2012 into even more like the player that Marcus Gilchrist was in his final season at Clemson.
#1. Malliciah Goodman – DE
While Goodman has not had the big sack numbers seasons many people expected from him coming out of high school. He is the leader of this defensive line. As the only returning starter he has logged more snaps than any of the other projected starters combined. His hard work in the off-season as well as a challenge from coaches should lead to another big final season for a Clemson defensive end. With very little depth with experience behind Goodman, his ability to stay on the field will be a key element for the success of the Clemson defensive line.