Monday Morning Quarterback
It has been six weeks since the 2019 football season ended for the Clemson Tigers. On Wednesday, they will be back on the field getting ready for 2020.
Though it is still February and the spring is officially three and a half weeks away, Clemson begins spring football practice at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson. One hundred and twenty Tigers will take to the practice field, including 15 early enrollees from the 2020 signing class.
Of course everyone is anxious to see quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, but most of the eyes will be on the defensive line where Clemson signed four defensive linemen ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300 and became the first program to sign four top-50 defensive linemen in a single class since the inception of the ESPN 300 in 2006.
“Unbelievable,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said back in December. “Are you kidding me? I just grin.”
Clemson signed three defensive linemen rated as five-stars by the 247Sports Composite – Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy and Demonte Capehart – and also signed four-star defensive tackle Tre Williams.
Bresee, Murphy and Capehart are all ranked among the top 35 prospects in the 2020 class regardless of position by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports, while Williams is a top-60 national recruit per ESPN and 247Sports.
Williams is the only one of the four who did not enroll in January. The other three will begin spring practice with the rest of the team on Wednesday.
Clemson defensive tackles coach Todd Bates said he has never been around a player who came in as physically ready to play as Bresee, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. Plus, according to Bates, Bresee has the type of attitude it takes to be great.
“He’s a special player, and he’s a special person, too,” Bates said to TCI prior to the national championship game in January. “Again, a lot of guys, when they’re that high-profile and they know already they’re the best, they just let their reputation speak. But reputations are foundations. They’re meant to be built upon, and he has that mentality. He’s ready to come in and build on that.”
A first-team Washington Post All-Met defensive lineman as a junior and senior, Bresee concluded his career at Damascus (Md.) High School with 134 career tackles, including 80.5 for loss, with 35 sacks. He had 47 tackles, including 30.5 for loss and 14 sacks, as a senior this season while leading his team to a 13-2 record and state championship.
Bresee is capable of excelling at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
“He can play anywhere along that defensive line,” Bates said. “That’s how athletic he is, and then be the best at it. He’s so instinctual as a player as well. He understands just offensive line play as well, where their hands are coming from and how to attack them. It’s going to be fun to coach him.”
Murphy, one of the top defensive ends in the nation, was a consensus five-star prospect by every service and ranked as high as the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2020 class by ESPN. As a senior at Hillgrove High School (Powder Springs, Ga.) in 2019, Murphy posted 53 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss, 10.5 of which were sacks.
“Myles Murphy, No. 1 player in Georgia. An absolute freakazoid,” Venables said. “Great family, incredible family, and very bright, incredibly talented. Comes from Hillgrove, another top-notch powerhouse. He’s been very well-coached and played against the best competition in high school football. He’s going to come in here game ready as well. Very developed fundamentally, instinctual and got great size and speed.”
Capehart, meanwhile, played three years at Hartsville High School (Hartsville, S.C.) before transferring to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) for his senior season.
“(Hartsville) Coach (Jeff) Calabrese did an amazing job raising him up,” Venables said. “And really the Hartsville family — it’s really a community that helped raise him up. I know he went to IMG his last year. They do a great job there too, but Hartsville is really responsible for getting Demonte to Clemson. He’s just kind of scratching the surface on what he’s going to be.”
With Clemson already returning 2019 phenom Tyler Davis at defensive tackle, as well as senior Nyles Pinckney and Jordan Williams at DT and Xavier Thomas, Justin Foster, K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll at defensive end, the Tigers’ defensive line should be fun to watch with its three new editions this spring.
—Gavin Oliver contributed to this story
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