Depth chart, in-depth 2013: Tigers solid 2-deep at corner, but door's open for freshmen

Highly-rated MacKensie Alexander leads talented group of newcomers

Florida State wide receiver Greg Dent nearly fumbles the ball while being tackled by Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Florida State wide receiver Greg Dent nearly fumbles the ball while being tackled by Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland in the second quarter.

Depth Chart, In-Depth: Cornerback

First Up: The Tigers will go into preseason camp with a solid two-deep lineup at the cornerback positions, with four players listed as co-starters at the two positions - with rising juniors Garry Peters (6-0, 195, Atlanta, Ga.) and Bashaud Breeland (6-0, 195, Allendale, S.C.) on one side, with rising senior Darius Robinson (5-10, 175, Atlanta, Ga.) and rising junior Martin Jenkins (5-10, 180, Marietta, Ga.) at the other.

Together, the four players have combined for nine seasons of playing experience, with 2,612 snaps, 99 games and 32 starts.

Breeland is the most experienced of the crew, with a dozen starts and 1,012 snaps, 83 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, and seven PBUs.

Next is Robinson, who's played in 25 games, started 12, and logged 700 snaps, with 33 tackles, three interceptions and three PBUs.

Jenkins, who played his first two seasons and then redshirted last year after undergoing off-season surgery, has played in 25 games, started three, and has 36 tackles and seven PBUs.

Peters stepped in last season after Robinson was sidelined by a broken ankle. He's played in 25 games, started five, and logged 534 snaps. He has 26 tackles, one interception and eight PBUs.

Next In Line: Depth at the cornerback spots will be provided by members of the Tigers' eight-man class of incoming freshman defensive backs. Those initially designated as cornerbacks during the recruiting process include Mackensie Alexander (5-11, 185, Immokalee, Fla., Adrian Baker (6-1, 170, Hollywood, Fla.), Ryan Carter (5-10, 175, Loganville, Ga.), Marcus Edmond (6-1, 180, Hopkins, S.C.), and Korrin Wiggins (6-1, 185, Durham, N.C.). Dabo Swinney says he expects about half the Tigers' class of freshman defensive backs to play this season, and the other half to redshirt. Alexander comes into the program as the Tigers' highest-rated recruit, listed as the No. 4 player in the nation overall by ESPN - Clemson's highest-raked signee since Da'Quan Bowers was ranked No. 1 in 2008.

Working Walk-ons: Rising redshirt junior Dante Stewart (5-8, 185, Swansea, S.C.) played in seven games and started one last season, and is a regular contributor on special teams. Rising redshirt senior C.J. Jones (6-0, 185, Lincolnton, Ga.) has played 17 snaps in four games during his career, and has also seen special teams action. Jerrodd Williams (6-0, 205, Central, S.C.) is a rising redshirt senior who was originally a signee at Virginia Tech. He played primarily on special teams last season.

More Help On The Way: Given the size of the 2013 recruiting class, defensive back is not a priority for the Tigers this cycle. Commitment C.J. Fuller (Easley, S.C.) is ranked among the top 75 cornerbacks in the nation by both 247Sports and Scout, but is being recruited by Clemson as a running back - his preferred position. The Tigers made a run at Jalen Tabor of Washington, D.C., one of the nation's top-rated corners, but he recently eliminated Clemson from his list and is expected to choose between Florida and Maryland. Players with Clemson offers include D.J. Smith of Marietta, Ga., Quincy Wilson of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Evan Berry from Fairburn, Ga., Kendarius Webster of Stockbridge, Ga., and Elliott Davis of Gaithersburg, Md.

Overall Outlook: Good. The Tigers can cover the two corners two-deep with experienced players - all of whom have made plays in big-game situations. None of the four, however, have yet to establish themselves as elite performers at the college level, thus leaving the door open for Alexander, or another freshman, to make a place for himself in the rotation. The group is boosted significantly by the return of Jenkins, who described in the spring as a key player in Clemson 2011 ACC championship season. Injuries hit this group hard a year ago, and a little better luck on that front will go a long way toward improving the Tigers' overall defensive performance.

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