Clemson's freshmen defensive linemen were thrown into the fire last season, but that same inexperience has grown exponentially and can now compete with previously injured veterans.
After laughing off how inconsistent Clemson was on the defensive line in 2020, head coach Dabo Swinney had excitement written all over his face talking about their potential moving into a new year for the Tigers.
"We were an inconsistent bunch last year for sure," Swinney said. "Whether it be guys that were available to play, inexperience, depth, whatever it was. But man, I love that group. And same thing, kind of like safety, we took a few bumps and bruises along the way but man, Bryan Bresee, whoa. He is so much better than he was at any point last year. Myles Murphy the same, two freshmen that really played well for us last year as true freshmen, and people don't really understand how hard it is to do. So it's just gonna make them better, and they are better."
A Tyler Davis injury saw Bresee fill in and thrive despite some hiccups along the way. Murphy saw the same route, as injuries to Xavier Thomas and former Tiger Justin Foster expedited his path to playing time.
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"K.J. (Henry) did a lot of good things last year, and we're getting him back healthy," Swinney said. "(Justin) Mascoll, his experience that he got last year, oh my goodness. That's just gonna pay huge dividends for him. Ruke (Orhorhoro), Ruke is a guy that I think can be a great player here. Tyler Davis is going into his junior year, and he's just got the knowledge and experience. I'm excited about what I've seen from Darnell (Jefferies); we're just developing those young guys. (DeMonte) Capehart, (Payton) Page, Tre (Williams), those are three special young talents.
"I love what I've seen out of (Cade) Denoff and Greg Williams' development. Xavier, getting him back and really locked in on what he needs to do. It's a really good group of guys, and this thing's got a chance, if we stay healthy, to have the type of group that we've had around here and what we've come to be accustomed to."
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