Looking ahead, position-by-position: running back
No. 1 question: Can Rod McDowell step into the starting role and become a premier back for an elite team?
The depth chart: McDowell emerged during the course of the 2012 season with a clear edge over D.J. Howard for the No. 2 spot behind Andre Ellington. McDowell showed the toughness and explosive burst that made him a highly recruited player, with a real knack for finding seams (and the goal line). Don't count Howard out, though. He's a tough runner with sometimes surprising speed who almost always picks up yards after contact. The jury's still out on the decision not to redshirt Zac Brooks, who saw little significant action this season. Incoming freshmen Wayne Gallman of Loganville, Ga. and Tyshon Dye of Elbert County, Ga. are talented and should get a shot at early playing time. Walk-on running backs on the Tigers' roster include George Johnson of Loganville, Ga., Alex Goode of Ninety Six, S.C., C.J. Davidson of Central, S.C., and Haamid Williams of York, S.C.
Recruiting prospects: In addition to being set for 2013, Clemson has a pair of early commitments for 2014 - 2,500-yard rusher Jae'lon Oglesby of Daniel High in Central, S.C., and Dalvin Cook of Miami-Central, Fla. Clemson also has an offer out to Easley, S.C.'s C.J. Fuller, who could play either running back or defensive back in college.