The Clemson defense returns a wealth of experience in 2022.
The Tigers are loaded up front, as pretty much the entire two deep returns. While the team does lose James Skalski and Baylon Spector, there are a number of guys that have been patiently waiting their turn, including LaVonta Bentley and Keith Maguire. Not to mention the fact that Trenton Simpson in moving inside.
ACC Rookie of the Year Andrew Mukuba returns at safety, as does Jalyn Phillips, giving Clemson a strong duo at that position.
Although, at corner, Clemson loses both starters, as Andrew Booth Jr and Mario Goodrich have both moved on to the NFL. Add in that both were first team All ACC players last season and the losses are even more accentuated.
However, there is talent waiting in the wings. Senior Sheridan Jones has seen plenty of time on the field during his first three seasons. Malcolm Greene and Fred Davis are also back. Clemson also signed two big-time talents in Jeadyn Lukus and Toriano Pride in the 2022 recruiting class.
Then there’s sophomore Nate Wiggins. Throughout the summer months, Clemson players have routinely posted to social media that Wiggins is the one player on the defense to keep an eye on and at the ACC Kickoff, QB DJ Uiagalelei echoed those very sentiments.
“I think he’s the best cover corner in college football, and he’s only going to be a sophomore,” Uiagalelei said. “The stuff he does out there in practice, just his technique, his football IQ, reading routes, he’s really special with ball skills as well.”
Cornerbacks coach Mike Reed also hinted at the likelihood of Wiggins taking the jump in 2022.
“He’s put on some weight,” Reed said at Clemson’s media day. “Nate’s always had the physical ability. He could run, could jump, could do all of the athletic things, but on this level, you got to have some size to you. It’s one of those transitions you have to make from high school to college, and he’s now bought into the nutrition side of it, and you can tell the way he looks.”
This all comes after a big spring for Wiggins. If there is one player primed for a breakout season on the Clemson defense, it sounds like the sophomore corner is a prime candidate.
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