Every year when fall camp begins there are always a couple of players no one has really paid attention to or is expecting big things from.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gave a little preview of a couple of guys to watch that maybe the media has not asked too much about this off-season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Swinney has pointed out several times left guard John Simpson as a player he thinks will have a good year for the Tigers, while on the defensive side he really likes the upside of cornerback A.J. Terrell.
Simpson is going into his third year at Clemson and is expected to replace Taylor Hearn at left guard. Simpson has been a backup guard the last two years and played as a true freshman. The North Charleston, S.C., native is considered one of the more versatile offensive linemen on the team. He has already recorded 15 knockdown blocks while playing in 21 games in his career.
“I am expecting real big things from him,” Swinney said. “I think he is going to be a heck of a player for us this year.”
Last year, Simpson played in 12 games and recorded 11 of his 15 career knockdown blocks. He had two knockdowns against rival South Carolina.
In the spring, the 6-foot-4, 320-pound left guard really came on and performed well, despite getting competition from redshirt freshman Matt Bockhorst and true freshman Jackson Carman. Bockhorst was the Tigers’ top lineman from the 2017 recruiting class and Carman was the top offensive lineman in the country coming out of high school this year.
“He is really, I think, going to play well,” Swinney said about Simpson. “He has put it altogether.”
Simpson heads into fall camp, which begins on Friday, as the Tigers’ starter at left guard.
On the defensive side of the ball, Terrell is listed as the co-starter at the field corner position with senior Mark Fields. As a true freshman in 2017, Terrell showed flashes of his potential and according to the coaching staff had a great spring as well.
People remember him for the one touchdowns he allowed to Tee Higgins in the spring game, but they forget about the two pass breakups and the interception he also got later in the game.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said the battles he and Higgins had during the spring were one of the best parts of spring practice.
“No one has really asked me about A.J.,” Swinney said. “I think he is a special talent. He is a special young man. He has special work ethic. Usually when you have all of those combinations then you usually get a special player.”
Being 6-foot-1 and weighing 190 pounds as a cornerback does not hurt either. Terrell played in all 14 games last year, recording 15 tackles with six passes broken up and one interception.
Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders. TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship. Order your copy today!