ESPN is high on the future outlook of Clemson’s defense.
On Monday, ESPN Senior Writer Adam Rittenberg released his top 25 future defense power rankings for college football (subscription required) and has Clemson ranked No. 1 for the second straight year.
Rittenberg’s power rankings are an assessment of the next three seasons (2022-24) and factor in current rosters, incoming recruits and transfers, and potential NFL departures, as well as coaching changes.
Here’s some of what Rittenberg wrote about why he ranked the Tigers at the top:
“In a close race for the top spot, Clemson leads off the rankings for the second consecutive year. The unit loses two outstanding cornerbacks (Mario Goodrich and Andrew Booth Jr.), mainstays at linebacker (James Skalski, Baylon Spector) and longtime coordinator Brent Venables. Still, the outlook remains extremely promising. Clemson’s defensive line has been a strength through the CFP era and will remain that way, especially in 2022 as All-America candidates Bryan Bresee, Tyler Davis and Myles Murphy all return. The line got a bonus boost as end Xavier Thomas, a two-time third-team All-ACC selection, is back for one final season. …
“First-year defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin will oversee a new-look linebacker group, although Trenton Simpson returns for at least one more year after recording a team-high six sacks and starting 12 games in 2021. Dynamic sophomore Barrett Carter should see a much bigger role, and junior Keith Maguire might be Skalski’s replacement in the middle. Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson’s top-ranked recruit and ESPN’s No. 7 overall player in the 2021 class, will be a big factor in the coming years, and junior Tyler Venables (33 tackles in 2021) is back at nickel. There are short-term questions in the secondary other than safety Andrew Mukuba, the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021.”
Rounding out the top five of ESPN’s future defense power rankings are No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Wisconsin.
NC State (No. 20) is the only ACC team besides Clemson ranked in the top 25.
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