The Tigers began 2021, like many of their other positions, with experience and talent only to see injuries factor in.
Super senior Nolan Turner was injured and watching from the sidelines in the opener against Georgia. Lannden Zanders was hurt in that game and missed the rest of the season.
True freshman Andrew Mukuba would get the nod against the Dawgs, something former defensive coordinator Brent Venables said would have happened even had Turner been healthy.
Some might say the season ending injury that Zanders suffered in that first game was the biggest blow the Tigers had at this position. However, that is until you take into account that Turner played the majority of the season with a foot injury and missed the bowl game with that injury.
Lannden Zanders: This young man will be expected to step up next season. He is one of the more experienced players in Clemson’s defensive backfield with starts in nine games during the 2020 season.
Jalyn Phillips: Another junior that saw a ton of time this past season, appearing in 12 games and starting six. Had a touchdown-saving tackle downfield against Syracuse that was then followed by an interception by the Tigers on the very next play. He also had a career-high of 14 tackles in the game against Pitt. Phillips also ended the season with eight tackles (one for loss), a forced fumble, and a pass breakup against Iowa State in the Cheez-it Bowl. Phillips should be a major contributor next season.
Tyler Venables: A sophomore that in his first two years has played in 24 games and had 41 total tackles (24 solo, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack). He will continue to be looked at to fill in whenever needed and help give this position group depth.
RJ Mickens: This sophomore and former 4-star player played in all 13 games. Didn’t have any starts but played a similar number of snaps as Phillips did. Has the athletic ability and football IQ that will help him continue to make an impact.
Andrew Mukuba: One of the biggest surprises of the season as Mukuba won a job as a true freshman. Played in all 13 games and started 10 of those. Played so well he wound up winning the ACC defensive rookie of the year award. This young man has a chance to be great at safety for the Tigers and will be expected continue to get better.
2022 Class: As the February signing day gets closer the only safety currently committed to Clemson is four-star Sherrod Covil out of Chesapeake, Virginia.
Roster Management: The Tigers typically like to carry seven safeties. Unless they pick up one in the portal or can get a commitment before the February signing deadline they are going to be one short of that number.
2022 S Kylon Griffin is scheduled to take an official visit this weekend so they are still looking to add one in the current class.
Clemson and Notre Dame have released depth charts ahead of this weekend’s matchup at Death Valley.
For the second time this season, Clemson will be an underdog at home.
Despite Clemson’s astonishing loss to Miami, the Tigers will head to Raleigh next week favored over NC State.