Looking Ahead: Five Sophomores to Keep An Eye On

Christopher Hall

With a full season in Tigertown under their belts, several Clemson sophomores hope to step into larger roles in the 2020 football season. 

We previously took a look into the crystal ball with the incoming freshmen class. Today, we'll give some time to the sophomore class which includes a handful of players vying for significant reps this fall. 

WR Frank Ladson, Jr.: With the early departure of Tee Higgins to the NFL, the gate is cracked open for Ladson to step into a leadership role in the Clemson offense in 2020 after a quiet freshman campaign. As a rookie, Ladson hauled in nine passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns. In his college debut, the Miami, Fla. native caught a 21-yard touchdown pass against Georgia Tech in the season opener. His longest career reception to this point covered 57 yards and came against Virginia in the 2019 ACC Championship. As a recruit, ESPN listed Ladson as the 35th best player overall and third-best from the Sunshine State

DL Tyler Davis: Another great star in the making along the Clemson defensive line with a sophomore from Apopka, Fla., Davis quickly caught the attention of the coaching staff after arriving on campus, earning a starting role as a true freshman in 2019. He played in 15 games, starting in 13 of them (a school record for freshmen defensive linemen). He also became the first freshman defensive tackle to start a season opener since 1974. Davis tallied 51 tackles a season ago including nine tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups. Davis has great potential and will be called upon to lead the Tigers defensive front over the course of the next 2-3 seasons. 

OL Will Putnam: Putnam earned some quality reps in a backup role at right guard in 2019 and those reps that should pay dividends this year as Clemson looks to rebuild the offensive line around the lone returning starter, Jackson Carman. In his first season as a Tiger, Putnam appeared in 11 games tallying 192 snaps including at least 20 each against Florida State (29), Boston College (34) and Wofford (26). Expect to see his workload trend upward once more this fall as the offensive line looks for the most efficient first-team group up front. As a recruit, 247Sports listed Putnam as the country's third-best offensive guard while ESPN listed the Tampa native as the fifth-best offensive guard and no. 15th player in the state of Florida. A slew of players are in contention for playing time within the interior of the offensive line, but Putnam will have as good of a shot as anyone. 

CB Andrew Booth, Jr.: With AJ Terrell NFL bound, an intriguing battle at cornerback is set to unfold in the Tiger secondary. Among those vying for more playing time in 2020 includes Andrew Booth, Jr. A five-star recruit from Archer High School in Dacula, Ga., Booth saw the field in 13 games as a freshman. In addition to his limited role on defense, he also played special teams at Louisville and against Boston College. Booth missed out on what has proved to be critical time during an abbreviated spring session as he recovered from successful surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in late January. However, fellow reserves Mario Goodrich and Derion Kendrick also missed a portion of spring ball making this position a very important one heading into fall camp. 

WR Joseph Ngata: Clemson is hopeful former five-star Joseph Ngata helps continue the trend of big-time playmakers at WRU [Wide Receiver University]. The Folsom, Calif., native has drawn comparisons to former Tiger Martavis Bryant, and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is pleased with the potential of his sophomore wideouts. Like fellow receivers Frank Ladson and Brannon Spector, Ngata appears to be progressing well under the system and becoming the full package. The 6-3, 215-pound sophomore notched 17 receptions for 240 yards and a trio of touchdowns last season. In one of his best performances to date in an orange uniform, Ngata scored on a six-yard pass at Louisville while averaging 30.5 yards on a pair of kickoff returns against the Cardinals. 

Comments (1)
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One sophomore I really think has a big season on defense is Lannden Zanders