This wasn't an easy spring for Brent Venables to evaluate all of his players.
Clemson's defensive coordinator had multiple Tiger defenders out from late February through early April. If it wasn't a guy who was banged up, it was COVID-19 protocol. Being in and out of practice made it hard for players to improve or get into a consistent rhythm, Venables said.
However, he still saw enough from junior cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. to think a big year is coming in 2021 for the expected starter.
"He was, you know, SportsCenter...highlights at times and then other times he just wasn't available so that's hard. It's not anybody's fault," Venables said about Booth. "Certainly he didn't want to miss (time) but that makes it tough on him for the things that you're talking about, you know, have to put together what you would call a great year. But he's capable of having a great year and again, just as much as anything, you know, being consistent with his fundamentals, with his knowledge with how he thinks of the game within the game."
Booth, who had two interceptions last season, has the tools to be a primetime player. He flashed his athleticism and reminded folks of the kind of big-time plays he can make with a one-handed interception that was ruled out of bounds during last Saturday's spring game.
Those are the things Venables already knows Booth can do. There's more to playing defense than highlight reels.
"How it relates to the entirety of the rest of the defense, and you got to really understand, know your role, your leverage, what's your depth, you know, just a lot of things," Venables said. "You know where your help is and so not only just knowing what you're supposed to do, but knowing what the guys around me do, know if any particular call affects that. And then we can play within the game, the system as much as anything else."
It's a maturation process for any cornerback, but Venables still saw enough improvement to know Booth's potential this fall.
"He's had a good spring," Venables said. "He did miss some time, but he has the chance to be a special player. He needs to have a great summer in order to do that."
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