By Dan Kelley on May 24, 2014
With Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins gone, the Clemson Tigers might be forgiven for taking a step back this year. That certainly isn't the plan, though. The Tigers should reload well, even after five departed stars were selected in the most recent NFL Draft. But to maintain the standard that Clemson has set in recent years, several guys are going to have to step up in 2014.
The Clemson defense should continue to be very good this season, even with the loss of cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Part of the reason for that is the return of Martin Jenkins. He is a bit undersized, standing 5-foot-9, but he recorded 26 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception last season.
With Sammy Watkins gone, the Tigers will be needing a new No. 1 receiver. On paper, that looks like it could be Humphries. He is the leading returning receiver, after recording 483 yards and two touchdowns last season. He won't replace Watkins, but he will provide Clemson with a consistent target.
While Humphries is more proven, Mike Williams may be the more intriguing prospect to emerge as Clemson's No. 1 receiver. Williams finished right behind Humphries in receiving yards last season as a freshman. He also looks like more of a big-play threat, after averaging nearly 16 yards per reception last season.
A functioning offensive line is vital to any offense, and with Brandon Thomas off to the NFL, Clemson will be looking to Isaiah Battle Jr. to really step up. The junior will bring more athleticism to the line and should be very effective as a pass-blocker.
Unlike the receivers, who will work in tandem to replace the production of Watkins, Cole Stoudt will most likely bear the burden of replacing Tajh Boyd by himself. The senior should provide stability after backing up Boyd for the past few years. Last season, Stoudt completed nearly 80 percent of his passes for 415 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
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