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Clemson Spring Game: What to Watch for at Cornerback

Clemson's spring game Saturday is the last chance for a thin cornerback unit to impress coaches and help them realize if there are enough bodies for the 2021 season.

It was just two years ago when a young Sheridan Jones had an interception returned for a touchdown, a forced fumble and seven tackles in Clemson's spring game.

Fast forward to Saturday, and the now-veteran is expected to look more like a starting cornerback than simply an up-and-comer. He's just one of the players all eyes will be following at a thin but important position when the Tigers take the field at Memorial Stadium at 1 p.m. for the annual Orange and White Spring Game. 

With Derion Kendrick off the team and two starting spots up for grabs, the last chance to impress the coaches is right in front of the six cornerbacks in what's been a challenging spring practice season. 

Here are three things to watch for at corner during Saturday's public and televised scrimmage: 

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1. Andrew Booth's progression: Think Mackensie Alexander, A.J. Terrell, Cordrea Tankersley. Clemson's seemingly always had an alpha dog at this position during the Brent Venables era. Technically, it was Kendrick a year ago, but Booth began emerging as that kind of cornerback last year. This spring game could be the launching pad to assuming that role first in 2021. If not, who will it be? 

2. Does Mike Reed have enough bodies?: Clemson coaches will wait until after spring to really evaluate every position, but if there's an area where the transfer portal could help, it's probably this one. Dabo Swinney likes to have seven corners, and Reed, the position coach, is undermanned. If it appears that way Saturday and big plays are given up while corners look tired, maybe the coaches examine the portal really closely this offseason. It doesn't help that nickel corner Malcolm Greene is out while recovering from surgery. 

3. The new guy: Clemson only has one corner nobody has seen play yet, and his name is Nate Wiggins. He hails from the same Atlanta high school as Terrell, a first-round NFL draft pick, so expectations are already high. Wiggins doesn't have to look like an All-American on Saturday, but if he looks overwhelmed, undersized or out of place, it's going to raise more questions about this unit's depth. After all, Swinney says they're counting on Wiggins in 2021 if he can beef up in the offseason. 

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