How do you rank the 25 most important players on a squad’s roster?
It is not easy. However, I rank them based on their past performance, experience and who is behind them on the depth chart, as well as their level of talent.
Here is my ranking of the 25 most important players on Clemson’s 2020 football roster. Here is No. 10 on the list.
No. 10: James Skalski
Class: Redshirt senior
Position: Middle Linebacker
Bio: In his first year as a full-time starter, Skalski did not disappoint in 2019. An All-ACC Academic selection, he started all 15 games and finished second on the team with 105 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks, while also recording four pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In his career, the linebacker is credited with 166 tackles, including 12.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and six sacks.
Why No. 10: After playing a reserve role at linebacker and starting on special teams in his first two seasons at Clemson, and then redshirting in his third year, Skalski used every single moment as a learning experience. Now, as he enters his final season at Clemson, the middle linebacker is not just a year older and wiser, but he is better. He is a better football player than he was at this point last year. The senior can also play weakside backer and can run the defense from either position. Prior to COVID-19 halting spring practice, Skalski made an effort to watch more film daily and learn the playbook so he can be like a coach on the field for the Tigers.
They said it: “He’s even more of a leader. Just having all that experience, 15 games under his belt, the game has really slowed down for him and he’s playing just very precise in everything that he’s doing. He’s playing multiple positions right now and can do it all at a really high level and helps create some depth there, so that if somebody gets banged up, he can do more than one thing. But I’ve been really pleased with Jamie and his leadership and how he’s playing right now.” –Clemson defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables.
25 most important Clemson Tigers of 2020:
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