Clemson’s secondary held up throughout most of last season even after being plagued with injuries.
The Tigers bring back their entire defensive line to a defensive that will most likely once again be one of the best in the country, but the secondary still lacks depth.
“We have a lot of bodies who have played a lot of football,” said Brent Venables after the teams second spring practice on Friday. “We’re a little shorthanded at safety and corner. I don’t feel great about our depth in the secondary at all.”
In regard to the secondary, Clemson will most likely have Mark Fields and Trayvon Mullen starting at corner and Tanner Muse, Isaiah Simmons and K’Von Wallace shuffling through both safety spots.
Venables did say he feels very comfortable with Fields leading the secondary, as he is the most tenured player in that position group after coming off an injury this past season.
“He’s healed well,” said Venables. “He missed a lot of football, but Mark’s very talented and probably has the best speed and transitional movement out of anyone we’ve got. He learned the details, became a technician and played within the framework of the defense. It’s all in front of him now.”
With Dorian O’Daniel gone, Simmons might also get a chance to switch out with Jalen Williams at the nickel position with his big frame, speed and versatility.
“I don’t assume anything. If you’ve got to choose one guy today, Jalen’s the one who has executed better than Isaiah has,” said Venables. “But he’s big, he’s strong, he can run and blitz. He has pretty good coverage ability and can play multiple position. That is something we like about Isaiah, he’s flexible.”
Wallace will most likely replace Van Smith at the safety position but may also get some time at cornerback if needed.
“Well, he started all year at safety so he will probably stay there,” Venables said. “If we needed him at corner he could always go over and play, but he’s a safety.”
That is not to say there won’t be any shuffling around, especially with A.J. Terrell and LeAnthony Williams in the mix. Brian Dawkins Jr. and freshman Kyler McMichael and Mario Goodrich will also be called on this next year to contribute, especially if the injuries start to pile up like last year.