CLEMSON — 2011 wasn’t easy for Bashaud Breeland.
There were times when the redshirt freshman cornerback was picked on by opposing quarterbacks, as is common for a newcomer playing alongside Coty Sensabaugh, who’d become a fourth-round pick of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
Playing in Kevin Steele’s complex system didn’t help matters, either; West Virginia’s Orange Bowl bludgeoning was a debacle for every Clemson defender.
Amid the struggles, however, there were clear positives. Take the one-hand interception that sparked Clemson’s rally from an 18-point second-half deficit to a 56-45 win at Maryland.
Or the 64-yard interception return against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game.
At 6-foot tall, 185 pounds, Breeland has acceptable size and excellent versatility and athleticism.
Following spring practice, he was listed as a starting cornerback, opposite rising junior Darius Robinson.
His potential and skills make Breeland Clemson’s No.16 most valuable player on our top 20 countdown.
Versatility is Breeland’s most crucial calling card. At Allendale-Fairfax High School, he played all over the field. As a senior, he rushed for 1,270 yards and 15 touchdowns as an athletic quarterback, but also played defensive back, scoring twice and adding two interception returns for scores in a single game.
Rivals.com rated him as the No.55 athlete prospect in the nation, while Scout.com rated him as the No.22 safety. ESPN rated him as the No.56 safety.
Breeland redshirted last fall, but saw significant playing time all season. He played in all 14 games, starting seven, rolling up 643 snaps. He had 53 tackles, four pass breakups and the aforementioned two interceptions.
Player Profile: Bashaud Breeland
Two years ago, Clemson’s secondary was keyed by Marcus Gilchrist, who moved effortlessly between corner, safety and nickelback.
While it remains uncertain if Breeland can duplicate the success of Gilchrist, entering his second season with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, he certainly has the potential to do so.
This fall, he’ll get even more playing time opposite Robinson and ahead of junior Martin Jenkins and redshirt freshman Cortez Davis in the cornerback rotation.
Breeland doesn’t say much, but he speaks volumes with his actions.
With a year of experience under his belt and an offseason to learn from his mistakes, Breeland should only be better this fall.
That’s why he’s one of Clemson’s most valuable players.