Looking ahead, position-by-position: linebackers
No. 1 question: With a year's more experience and more pieces to work with, can Brent Venables' group master their assignments and play consistently at a championship level?
The depth chart: The Tigers lose a mainstay in Tig Willard and a solid plug-in man in Corico Wright, but the rest of the Tigers' linebackers return, plus Justin Parker, Kellen Jones and T.J. Burrell jump into the mix.
Tony Steward should get first shot at the 'Will' position, where he played sparingly behind Willard and Wright last season. The middle will be the Tigers' strength with Spencer Shuey - Clemson's top tackler over the second half of the season - and Stephone Anthony again battling for the No. 1 spot. At the 'Sam' position, look for Quandon Christian to again split snaps with whoever emerges as the Tigers' top nickel back.
That leaves B.J. Goodson, Lateek Townsend, Parker, Jones and Burrell to carve out niches for themselves this spring. Parker, who played as a true freshman and sophomore, is coming off a redshirt season after undergoing surgery before last season. Jones sat out last season after transferring from Oklahoma, and Burrell redshirted.
Look for Venables to cross-train and experiment during the spring in an effort to get the Tigers' best players on the field.
Recruiting prospects: The Tigers have three more linebackers committed for this year's recruiting class - Ben Boulware, Dorian O'Daniel and D.J. Greenlee. Both Boulware and O'Daniel are ESPN Top 150 picks, with Boulware rated as the state of South Carolina's top player overall. O'Daniel is ranked as the nation's No. 5 outside linebacker and is a top-50 overall pick by Rivals.
Clemson has offers out to a large group of linebackers for the class of 2014 - a group led by projected five-star MLB Raekwon McMillan of Hinesville, Ga., Chris Register of Greensboro, N.C., Christian Miller of Columbia, S.C., and Kevin Crosby of Bamberg, S.C. Other players of interest include Gyasi Akem of Broken Arrow, Okla., Richard Yeargin of Hollywood, Fla., Korie Rogers of Buford, Ga., Tre Williams of Mobile, Ala., D'Ronzjaih Matthews of Fort Myers, Fla., Cameron Hampton of Dallas, Tex., Bryson Allen-Williams of Ellenwood, Ga., Rashaan Evans of Auburn, Ala., and Shaun Dion Hamilton of Montgomery, Ala.