A look at Clemson’s 2021 Depth Chart: Right Tackle
Five-star signee Tristan Leigh will not be on Clemson’s campus until later this year, but that does not mean the competition to be the Tigers’ two offensive tackles will not be fierce during spring practice.
It appears, for the time being, redshirt Jordan McFadden and sophomore Walker Parks will be battling it out for the top spots at left and right tackle. Both will get equal reps at both positions as coaches try to figure out what to do with them.
Behind McFadden and Parks are sophomore Mitchell Mayes and true freshman Marcus Tate. At this point, anything can happen.
Tate is a huge prospect listed at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds but is probably closer to 6-6. He worked out at the same training facility in Florida with former Clemson and current Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, and Dabo Swinney said Tate made Wilkins “look tiny” in a photo they took together.
Tate is versatile and could play tackle or guard at the next level. With starting left tackle Jackson Carman having declared for the NFL Draft, there could be an opportunity for Tate and fellow Clemson signee Tristan Leigh to provide depth there behind Carman’s heir apparent at left tackle, Walker Parks. Or, Tate could earn a role as a reserve at guard if he takes advantage of his reps during the offseason and impresses in practice.
TCI’s projected depth chart at right tackle heading into spring practice:
Walker Parks, So., 6-5, 295: Parks was the backup to Carman last year at left tackle. He will compete in the spring with McFadden for the starting job at left tackle. He is likely to start at right tackle, but will get equal reps as McFadden, more than likely, at left tackle. Parks was a Freshman All-American last year after playing in 11 games and recording 199 snaps. He produced a season-high 48 snaps against Georgia Tech, but his freshman season will best be remembered for a memorable de-cleating block he had in the Tigers’ win over then No. 2 Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game. Parks’ quickness and ability to move fast serve him well in pass protection and when getting to the second level on blocks. A couple of his best characteristics are his toughness and hard-nosed attitude. He plays with the type of aggressiveness and nasty mean streak that his coaches love to see.
Jordan McFadden, *Jr., 6-2, 300: McFadden will likely start the spring at left tackle, but he and Parks will likely share equal reps at both left and right tackle as the coaches decide where the two fit the best on the offensive line. McFadden is Clemson’s most experienced tackle. He started all 12 games last season at right tackle, while recording 767 snaps. He has played in 29 games overall and has been in on 1,099 snaps in his career thus far. McFadden started on an O-line last year that allowed the fewest sacks per game in the ACC and was the only offensive line to allow fewer than two sacks per game.
Mitchell Mayes, So., 6-3, 300: Was listed as the backup at right tackle to McFadden. He played in four games and took 61 snaps in those four games. He had a season-high 24 snaps in the Tigers’ 49-0 win over The Citadel. Mayes is a 300-plus-pounder that is athletic and moves very well for his size. He is tough, physical and plays with the type of nasty attitude you like to see in an offensive lineman. He is powerful off the ball with great push that helps him consistently drive defensive linemen backwards. Mayes’ strength is his run-blocking ability, but his quickness and agility give him the tools to be dependable in pass protection as well.
Marcus Tate, Fr., 6-5, 320: Tate likely will provide depth at right tackle, but he will cross train in the spring at left as well. How he does here will determine where he will practice the most in fall camp. Not only does Tate have superior size, but he is very athletic as well. He was a two-sport athlete who also played basketball in high school, and that background shows up in his plus footwork on the gridiron. He takes good steps when run blocking and is solid in pass protection thanks in part to his athleticism and ability to move around well, which helps him when pulling and blocking out in space. Tate is strong at the point of attack, uses good hand placement, finishes blocks and plays through the whistle. The push he is able to generate is evident in his high school tape as he consistently drove defenders to the grass.
—Gavin Oliver contributed to this story