No one knows how to get the most out of a player more than Brent Venables, especially when it comes to his linebackers.
Venables, who played linebacker at Kansas State, has been a linebackers coach for the majority of his coaching career, including all 10 seasons he has been at Clemson. He expects a lot out of his linebackers.
When the Tigers get back to practice full-time in August, Venables will have three starters from last year’s linebacking corps back. Graduate James Skalski will be in the middle. Senior Baylon Spector will play the weakside and then there is sophomore Trenton Simpson.
He is making sure he knows all the ins and outs at the strongside linebacker position on Clemson’s defense. He is also learning the other two positions—middle and weakside—as well.
“I am learning all three positions so I can be as versatile as possible,” Simpson said this past spring. “Whenever I come out of SAM I can rotate to MIKE or WILL and just be able to play at a high level. That is what Coach (Venables) is getting me prepared for. He wants me to be ready on Sept. 4 for all three positions.”
Last season, Simpson played the SAM position exclusively. The 6-3, 225-pound linebacker finished last year with 32 tackles, including 6.5 behind the line of scrimmage. He had four sacks and forced a fumble as well. He played in all 12 games for the Tigers and started three of them, including the College Football Playoff Semifinal game at the Sugar Bowl.
Simpson said he worked a good balance of reps at the middle and weakside positions.
“I am getting maybe three reps at SAM and two reps at MIKE or WILL,” he said. “It is a great balance. It is more SAM, but I am getting MIKE or WILL out there.”
Simpson said Malcolm Greene and Tyler Venables worked with him at the SAM/Nickel spot.
Clemson will kick off the season on Sept. 4 against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
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