Despite the departure of unanimous All-American Isaiah Simmons, Dabo Swinney is not losing any sleep worrying about the guy who will replace Simmons at the nickel/SAM position, nor is Swinney concerned about anyone else in Clemson’s linebacker corps.
Swinney is confident in the unit and liked what he saw from the linebackers this spring, especially Mike Jones, the redshirt sophomore expected to fill Simmons’ spot.
“I thought Mike Jones really, really had a great spring,” the Tigers’ head coach said. “He’s got a big thumbs up by his name right now. I’m proud of him.”
Fifth-year senior James Skalski is back to anchor the linebacker group for another year at MIKE following his first season as a starter in 2019, when he finished second on the team with 105 tackles (7.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks) while also recording four pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Skalski was very impressive during Clemson’s nine spring practices, according to Swinney.
“It’s almost not fair having him out there,” Swinney joked. “I want to just take him off the practice field every day. He is something else.”
Redshirt junior Baylon Spector is the frontrunner to take over for the departed Chad Smith at WILL.
The Tigers also have talented young players like redshirt sophomore Jake Venables, sophomore Kane Patterson and redshirt freshmen LaVonta Bentley and Keith Maguire who will compete for playing time, while true freshmen Sergio Allen, Trenton Simpson and Kevin Swint are all in the mix as well after enrolling in January.
“There’s not one guy in our linebacker group that I worry about,” Swinney said. “Every single one of them are great people, unbelievably committed and very, very talented. So, I think Brent (Venables) has done a great job there.”
Get your official Clemson gear right here!