The Tigers began the season with one of the most experienced linebacker groups in college.
With super senior James Skalski at MIKE and redshirt senior Baylon Spector at the WILL, Clemson had 11 years of experience at those two positions alone. Add in talented sophomore Trenton Simpson at SAM and the Tigers had one dynamic trio.
Skalski and Spector played much of the season banged up. Jake Venables missed most of the season due to injury and even notified the staff that he would have to give up his career. The injuries to Spector before and to Skalski during the Cheez-it Bowl gave fans a nice preview of next season‘s expected starting lineup.
Trenton Simpson: This season the sophomore became the first Tiger with at least half a sack in four straight games since Clelin Ferrell did it in 2018 and the first Clemson player with at least half a sack in five straight since Kevin Dodd in the final five games of the 2015 season. Simpson will begin the 2022 season as the most experienced starting linebacker and will be expected to be a leader, not only at that position, but for the defense overall.
LaVonta Bentley: The redshirt sophomore who has already made a name for himself as a hard hitter had five tackles in Clemson’s bowl game against Iowa State. Over his first three seasons Bentley has played in 27 games and had 48 total tackles (31 solo, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks).
Keith Maguire: The redshirt sophomore played lights out with a career-high six tackles vs. Iowa State filling in for Skalski who went out early in their bowl game due to an injury. He’s a potential starter at that spot going forward.
Sergio Allen: The sophomore has played in 14 games over his two seasons at Clemson and has had seven total tackles (two solo). Allen was a Top-200 player coming out of high school and his best football is still ahead of him.
Jeremiah Trotter, Jr: This five star recruit came in as the No. 7 overall player in the nation by ESPN.com, ranked as the nation’s No. 1 linebacker, and the top player out of Pennsylvania. He contributed during his freshman campaign with 15 total tackles (nine solo and one sack). This included three tackles and the final stop on the Clemson three-yard line that preserved a shutout at South Carolina and six tackles against Iowa State in the Cheez-it Bowl.
Barrett Carter: As a freshman he played in 13 games and had 16 total tackles (six solo and one tackle for loss). This Five-star athlete from Georgia cane in ranked as the No. 17 overall player in the nation by 247Sports and is another player that the Tigers are expecting to be a big help with their linebacker corps.
2022 Class: Heading into the February signing day three-star Wade Woodaz is the only linebacker committed to the Tigers.
Roster Management: Clemson generally likes to carry 10 linebackers. The loss of Skalski, Spector, and Venables (multiple injuries), as well as the transfer of Kane Patterson, means that the Tigers are going to be short of that number. This is why the staff is expected work through the February signing deadline to add another one to the 2022 class.
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