As the 2013 season rapidly approaches and the hype surrounding the Clemson Tigers being potential national championship contenders continues to grow with anticipation, the same two names are constantly thrown around. Generally, you’ll only hear the names Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.
Yes, while those two names are indeed both crucial components aiding in the success of the 2013 version of the Tigers, it’s ultimately going to be an improved defensive effort that’s going to lead Clemson to the promised land.
And no one player on that side of the ball can get the defense more hyped up this year than sophomore safety Travis Blanks.
Blanks saw a lot of playing time last season as a freshman and was more than impressive. Before even playing a down last season, Clemson coaches raved about how Blanks was, “mature beyond his years.” Well, he certainly proved his coaches right.
Mainly spelling Quandon Christian last season, playing more of a nickel position, Blanks would go on to garner Second-Team Freshman All-American honors by the time the season was over. With 45 tackles during the 2012 regular season, that award was more than warranted, especially not being a full-time starter.
In the Tigers’ 25-24 victory against the LSU Tigers in the Chick-Fil A Bowl, Blanks may have given a sneak peek of just how dangerous he can be this season. Towards the end of the first half, Blanks came up with an athletic interception of Zach Mettenberger. So, not only do you have to worry about his innate tackling abilities, he can cover quite well also.
Blanks will go into this season as the definitive starter at the safety position, and deservedly so. He’ll be a crucial element in the success of this Clemson defense. Seeing some potentially dangerous passing attacks this year, most importantly in Week One against Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs, Blanks breaking out into the star that he’s expected to be will pay huge dividends.
A lot of the Clemson inconsistencies on defense last year stemmed from the play of the secondary. They gave up big plays when they shouldn’t have throughout the year.
Something tells me that if Travis Blanks evolves into the devastating defensive force that he obviously can be, secondary play won’t be as much of an issue in 2013 for Dabo Swinney.