Depth chart, in-depth 2013: Can interior DL pick up where it left off against LSU?

Dan Brooks' tackles are solid and deep; the next step is to dominate

Clemson's Martin Aiken, D.J. Reader, and Josh Watson during spring football practice.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Martin Aiken, D.J. Reader, and Josh Watson during spring football practice.

Depth chart, in-depth: defensive tackles

First Up: Rising juniors Grady Jarrett (6-1, 290, Conyers, Ga.) and Josh Watson (6-4, 285, Wilmington, Del.) will be first on the field in what coach Dan Brooks is hoping will develop as an interchangeable six-man rotation.

Jarrett started 11 games and logged 512 snaps as a true sophomore. He finished the season with 49 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback-pressures.

As a redshirt sophomore, Watson started nine games and made 54 tackles in 461 snaps. He had three sacks, 14 quarterback pressures, and batted down four passes. He also caused and recovered a fumble and blocked a kick.

Next In Line: True sophomore DeShawn Williams (6-1, 285, Central, S.C.) and first-year freshman D.J. Reader (6-3, 335, Greensboro, N.C.) will work in rotation with Jarrett and Watson, with true sophomore Carlos Watkins (6-3, 300, Mooresboro, N.C.) and redshirt sophomore Roderick Byers (6-3, 275, Rock Hill, S.C.) forming the third tier.

Williams is a veteran of 27 games during his two-year career, and made five starts a year ago. He finished the season with 50 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, nine quarterback-pressures and one PBU. Reader played in 13 games and logged 236 snaps as a true freshman. He had 40 tackles and three quarterback-pressures.

Watkins, who was rated as one of the nation's top 10 defensive tackle prospects out of high school, played in nine games for a total of 113 snaps and had 16 tackles, one tackle for loss and three hurries. Byers played in five games and had five tackles as a redshirt freshman.

In The Pipeline: Joining the mix this summer is Scott Pagano (6-4, 280, Honolulu, Hawaii). Pagano earned the Lombardi Award as the top defensive lineman in the western region of the U.S. from Rivals, which ranked him as the nation's No. 6 defensive tackle and No. 104 overall.

Working Walk-on: Contributing as a member of the scout team is redshirt sophomore Steven Young (5-11, 275, Awendaw, S.C.).

More Help On The Way: The Tigers are still looking for a defensive tackle for their 2014 recruiting class. Uncommitted players with Clemson offers include Dexter Wideman of Saluda, S.C., Kendall Baker of Atlanta, Ga., Lamont Gaillard of Fayetteville, N.C., Thomas Holley of Brooklyn, N.Y., Naquez Pringle of Georgetown, S.C., and Naquan Harris of Norfolk, Va.

Overall Outlook: Solid and deep, with elite potential. The Tigers' interior defensive line improved dramatically over the course of the 2012 season, as Josh Watson, Grady Jarrett and DeShawn Williams emerged as reliable mainstays, and D.J. Reader merited significant playing time from the get-go. The group's performance against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl suggested that there's still better to come. The next step, both for the group and individuals, is to consistently dominate their one-on-one match-ups, picking up where they left off the last time they were on the field.

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Comments » 1

rsb8931#286014 writes:

Almost since the end of the fourth quarter in the Peach Bowl all I have read and heard is how good some of our players are and just wait till you see the new ones. Well, football is here again, almost, and it's time to find out just how good they are. I do think on paper we look to be pretty good but games are not won on paper. I just hope our vets and our new guys play as well as they are touted. If they do, then we should be a really good team. If not, then we will only be an ok team. I think they will all perform to their advertised abilities and if they do, we will all have a good year and a real good January!!!

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