How deep is Goodwin comfortable going on defensive depth chart?

How deep is Goodwin comfortable going on defensive depth chart?

Football

How deep is Goodwin comfortable going on defensive depth chart?

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Wesley Goodwin continues to prepare for his first season as Clemson’s defensive coordinator, but he’s gotten about as familiar as he can with his personnel now that game week is inching closer.

Goodwin’s first game as Brent Venables’ successor in a full-time capacity is just 10 days away as the Tigers have transitioned into game planning for their Labor Day opener against Georgia Tech. Goodwin has been in his new role since being promoted in December, giving him the spring and all of preseason camp to settle on a depth chart.

While only 11 players can run out first for Clemson’s opening defensive series against the Yellow Jackets, Goodwin said there are anywhere from 16 to 18 players he could choose from that he would be comfortable starting.

“I feel like our two-deep could go out there and start and feel really comfortable with what they can do with performance levels and stuff like that,” Goodwin said. “I feel like they’re at a good standpoint knowledge-wise. I feel really good about our two-deep.”

It’s no mystery where the strength of that depth lies for Goodwin and his unit. The Tigers’ defensive line returned its entire two-deep from last season and, with projected first-round draft picks Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy leading the way, is expected to be one of college football’s best this fall.

Murphy is one of four defensive ends that head coach Dabo Swinney considers co-starters at the position, though the Tigers are down one of them for the time being with senior Xavier Thomas (foot) out for at least a month. Fellows senior K.J. Henry is the favorite to step in for the time being while another senior, Justin Mascoll, may also see his reps increase in Thomas’ absence.

The positions with the most uncertainty after last season were middle linebacker (James Skalski) and cornerback (Andrew Booth and Mario Goodrich) given what the Tigers lost there in terms of talent and experience. But Swinney and Goodwin have said they feel good about Keith Maguire and Jeremiah Trotter at the Mike ‘backer spot while Goodwin said he has similar feelings about corner, where Sheridan Jones and Nate Wiggins are the frontrunners for those starting jobs.

Lavonta Bentley has been repping at Will linebacker along with starter Trenton Simpson, who made the move from the Sam/nickel spot in the spring following Baylon Spector’s departure. Barrett Carter, a former blue-chip recruit, is taking over at Sam. Perhaps the most surprising development of camp is that true freshman Wade Woodaz is getting some second-team work at the position.

Senior Jalyn Phillips and Andrew Mukuba, a freshman All-American last season, are manning the safeties spots, though Goodwin said R.J. Mickens, Tyler Venables and true freshman Sherrod Covil are in line for playing time at the position, too.

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