What will Kaleb Chalmers arrest and subsequent suspension mean for the Clemson secondary going forward?
Judging from past experiences it’s pretty obvious Chalmers will be suspended for the rest of the spring by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney when the Tigers resume practices on Monday. He could also be suspended for a game or two in the fall. Chalmers, who was four-star recruit from Greenwood in 2015, was arrested and charged with simple drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a schedule II controlled substance last Monday in Clinton, S.C.
Chalmers, who was in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, was released on a $1,000 recognizance bond. The redshirt freshman is expected to be a contributor at the cornerback position this fall, if he is still available.
The Tigers had already suffered a major blow in the secondary with the loss of cornerback Adrian Baker, who tore his ACL on March 5 during one-one-one drills. Baker is expected to miss at least the next six months and could miss the entire 2016 season depending on how his rehab goes.
Add Bakers’ injury to the losses of Mackensie Alexander, Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green, who all went to the NFL, and then the sudden transfer of safety Jefferie Gibson, and all of sudden Clemson’s secondary is not nearly as deep as it was a year ago.
So, how does Chalmers’ mistake hurt the secondary?
Through the first six practices of the spring, Clemson has been splitting Ryan Carter’s reps at cornerback and at safety. Carter spent much of his first two seasons at the corner and nickel back positions.
“I played a lot of safety in high school so the transition has been kind of easy. I’m working wherever I can fit in with some guys out and whatnot,” Carter said.
Carter says he has no idea where he will ultimately end up in the fall, and he just plans to do whatever is asked of him, and at least for the rest of the spring that could be playing the cornerback position.
Mark Fields and Cordrea Tankersley are the starters at cornerback with Marcus Edmonds and Amir Trapp working as their backups. Jadar Johnson and Van Smith have been working as first-team safeties with Tanner Muse and Carter playing backups roles.
Korrin Wiggins, who is coming off ACL surgery last fall, has been limited in practice and will be in a green jersey for perhaps the rest of the spring. Wiggins is expected to be the starter at strong safety in the fall.
There is help on the way, but the Tigers have to successfully get through the spring first without any more casualties going down in the secondary or this could be a lost spring for the defensive backfield.
Clemson signed cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen, Nolan Turner, K’Von Wallace and Brian Dawkins this past February. They also inked safety Isaiah Simmons.
Mullen, the No. 2 cornerback in the country coming out of high school, and Wallace are expected to come in and provide immediate depth at the position while Simmons is expected to make an impact at safety.
If the freshmen come though, then maybe the loss of Chalmers will not hurt the Tigers, but right now, just looking at what he has, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has to be a little concerned.