Spring Preview: Tigers loaded with talent at defensive end

Spring Preview: Tigers loaded with talent at defensive end


Spring Preview: Tigers loaded with talent at defensive end


Last month, Logan Rudolph left the Clemson football program to pursue an acting career. He alternated as a starter with Xavier Thomas and Justin Foster at strongside and weakside defensive end in 2019. He played in all 15 games and started nine of them.

What does Rudolph’s departure mean for the Tigers in 2020?

It hurts a little, since Rudolph did start nine games last season and played in 31 overall in his career. But overall, Clemson is still in good shape at defensive end. Foster started 13 games there last year and played in all 15, while Thomas started eight and played in 12. Thomas missed three games due to a concussion.

Along with Thomas and Foster is K.J. Henry, who played as a reserve defensive end in all 15 games in 2019. He finished the year with 22 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. He also broke up three passes and had three quarterback pressures. Redshirt sophomore Justin Mascoll will also be in the mix. He is a year older, wiser and stronger.

Clemson also welcomes redshirt freshman Greg Williams and freshman Myles Murphy into the rotation this spring. Murphy (6-5, 265) will help with depth at strongside defensive end.

Here is a look at what the Clemson depth chart could look like at the defensive end positions going into spring practice. Clemson starts spring practice on Feb. 26.

Xavier Thomas, Jr., 6-2, 265: During his freshman season, with future NFL players Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant playing in front of him, Thomas was productive. He tallied 43 tackles as a reserve, including 10.5 for loss, 3.5 of which were sacks. He also broke up a couple of passes and had six quarterback pressures. He missed three games due to injury as a sophomore, but he was still named as a third-team All-ACC selection. He finished the season with 31 tackles, including 8.0 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Justin Foster, Sr., 6-2, 265: Foster has 66 career tackles, 17.5 for loss, 7.0 sacks, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery during his 39-game career game, including 13 starts. An honorable mention All-ACC, as well as an All-ACC Academic selection, Foster was credited with 41 tackles. He also recorded 10.5 tackles for loss, had 4.5 sacks, broke up a pass and forced a fumble. He started 13 games and played in all 15 for the Tigers.

K.J. Henry, *So., 6-4, 250: Henry has registered 31 career tackles in his 19-game career. He has 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery. In 2019, he played in all 15 games. . He finished the year with 22 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. He also broke up three passes and had three quarterback pressures.

Justin Mascoll, *So., 6-3, 260: Mascoll has played in 16 games in his career, while recording 16 tackles, including one tackle behind the line of scrimmage. In 2019, he was credited with 16 tackles, while playing in all 15 games. His best game came against Syracuse as he tallied a season-high three tackles in the Tigers’ 41-6 win.

Greg Williams, *Fr., 6-3, 240: He played in just four games last year before being redshirted. Williams played 14 defensive snaps overall. He made his collegiate debut against Charlotte. He also saw action in the Wofford game and then recorded half tackle for loss in the Wake Forest game. Williams played linebacker in high school but was moved to defensive end last year where the coaches think he can become an outstanding defensive end and pass rusher. A four-year starter at Swansea (SC) High School, he played in the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl. He was the Region 5-AAA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.

Myles Murphy, Fr., 6-5, 265: Murphy comes out of high school as one of the top defensive ends in the nation. He is listed as one of the top 10 overall players in the nation by ESPN.com, 247Sports and Rivals.com. A consensus 5-star prospect, he was listed as the No. 3 overall player in the nation by ESPN.com, which also listed him as the No. 2 defensive end in the nation and No. 1 player in the state of Georgia. He was ranked as the No. 5 overall player in the nation by 247Sports, the top defensive end and No. 1 player in Georgia, while Rivals.com ranked him as the ninth overall player in the nation, No. 2 defensive end and top player in Georgia.

Note: *redshirt

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