If there is a position group that really needs to take step forward on the Clemson defense, it is the safeties.
With so much youth on the team last season, inexperience led to issues with consistency, but head coach Dabo Swinney says he thinks fans will see a much improved group of safeties in 2021.
“It’s a really good group,” Swinney said. “That’s another position on our team where there’s gonna be a lot of competition. And that’s going to make us better.”
With Lannden Zanders out for the spring and Nolan Turner not taking any live reps, the younger guys on the roster are getting their shot to step up and show what they can do now that they have another season under their belts.
“With Lannden (Zanders) out, it’s been great for Joseph (Charleston), been great for Ray (Thornton), it’s been great for Jalyn (Phillips),” Swinney said. “It’s been great for (R.J.) Mickens. All those guys getting a ton of work.”
One player that Swinney said is showing a lot of improvement is defensive coordinator Brent Venables son, Tyler. The Clemson head coach said they are working Venables in a lot of different spots this spring.
“It’s been great for Tyler Venables,” Swinney said. “Tyler’s playing both safety (spots) and the nickel/SAM spot. He’s all over. He plays our dime guy as well. Just a very knowledgeable guy. Tyler’s lightyears ahead of where he was last year. All those guys are taking advantage of the opportunity.”
Then there is the freshman Andrew Mukuba. While Swinney said he still has a lot to learn, there is a ton to like about the young prospect from Austin, Texas.
“Then you get this kid (Andrew) Mukuba, who is going to be a great player,” Swinney said. “He’s dynamic, got a lot to learn, smooth, he’s got excellent ball skills, tough kid.