25 most important Clemson Tigers of 2020: No. 5

25 most important Clemson Tigers of 2020: No. 5

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25 most important Clemson Tigers of 2020: No. 5

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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. 5 on the list.

No. 5: Derion Kendrick

Class: Junior

Position: Cornerback

Height: 6-0

Weight: 190

Bio: Kendrick had a very good first season at cornerback. In his first year as a starter, the former wide receiver was a second-team All-ACC selection and finished seventh on the team with 51 tackles. He had three tackles for loss, six passes broken up and had two interceptions, including a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown. The coaches believe Kendrick is a future star in the ACC and he has not come close to reaching his ceiling.

Why No. 5: In the spring of 2019, Clemson found itself in a little bit of a predicament. Several of its cornerbacks suffered some sort of a nagging injury and were unable to practice. It got so bad, Dabo Swinney reached over to his group of wide receivers and pulled Derion Kenrick to the defensive side of the ball. Kendrick’s journey over to the defense was supposed to be experimental. He was supposed to be an extra body to help with practice and scrimmages. However, it became pretty obvious early on Kendrick was a natural at cornerback. When the Tigers got back from spring break, Kendrick was working with the first team and when the spring ended, he was penciled in as the starting cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell. Kendrick continued his ascent at corner once the season started and is now considered one of the best cornerbacks in the country. On Monday, he was named to the Jim Thorpe Watch List, which is given to the best defensive back in college football. Kendrick is even more valuable to Clemson than before. With Justyn Ross out for the season, Kendrick could see himself play a little on offense as well, as he demonstrated his big-play potential as a wide receiver during his freshman season. Kendrick is also dangerous as a kick and punt returner and he will likely be used as both this coming season.

They said it: “He understands ball. It was just (snapping his fingers) like a fish to water. It was just natural.” –Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney

25 most important Clemson Tigers of 2020:

No. 25: D.J. Uiagalelei

No. 24: Bryan Bresee

No. 23: Will Putnam

No. 22 Lannden Zanders

No. 21 Mario Goodrich

No. 20 Jordan McFadden

No. 19 Jordan Williams

No. 18 Cornell Powell

No. 17 Nyles Pinckney

No. 16 Tyler Davis

No. 15 Frank Ladson

No. 14 Joseph Ngata

No. 13 Justin Foster

No. 12 Xavier Thomas

No. 11 Cade Stewart

No. 10 James Skalski

No. 9 Mike Jones, Jr. 

No. 8 Amari Rodgers

No. 7 Braden Galloway

No. 6 Matt Bockhorst

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