CLEMSON– With the Clemson Tigers having finished spring practice, and with a small sample size of only 15 practices to judge–it is now time that we begin a look across the Clemson roster to find the 10 players, at each of the 10 position groups, that will have a breakout seasons.
Today we begin with the linebacker, and rising sophomore Tre Lamar.
Lamar enrolled at Clemson in January of 2016 as the nation’s No. 2 ranked linebacker, and quickly showed that he would not be a candidate for a redshirt.
After producing 22 tackles in 102 snaps over 15 games, with seven of the tackles coming on special teams, the rising sophomore linebacker is poised to see his playing time increase significantly with the departure of senior linebacker Ben Boulware.
Possessing a unique gift of both size, at 6-foot-4 and 241 pounds, and athletic ability, Lamar feels ready to have an impact on more than special teams in 2017.
“I really want to get out there and do something, being given the chance–I had to take advantage of it,” Lamar said.”…I think I’m progressing well. Just knowing the stuff. You know, when I came in freshman year it was hard getting used to the new verbiage and stuff. But now that I’ve been here a year I feel like I’m really starting to pick up on it.”
Earning playing time as a freshman is hard, even for the most talented of players along the Tiger defense.
According to defensive coordinator Brent Venables, the only way that a player will get to see significant playing time on the defense unless you are filling a spot of need or the offense is really bad.
“I honestly thought that Tre Lamar played a lot. That’s just me, but (he) did not probably play as much as he would have liked,” Venables said. “It’s (playing early) hard anywhere, unless you just stink on offense and defense is having to play every snap…It’s hard to do.”
The Tigers have done some shuffling along the linebacking corps, with the hope being of getting Lamar on the field at the middle linebacker spot, with, veteran linebacker and the Tigers top-returning tackler, Kendall Joseph having moved to the weakside linebacker position vacated by Boulware.
A move which has shown promise for the Tiger defense.
“He does well,” Joseph said of Lamar. “I mean, he’s learning and getting more comfortable, and you can see the confidence in him. He’s setting the front and screaming the defensive calls and communicating. He just looks comfortable and he’s a really good middle linebacker.”
However, Lamar is looking to be more than just “comfortable” and “really good” this season–he is looking to be dominant.
“I know I’ve got it in me to go out there and be one of the best linebackers to ever play,” Lamar said. “I just have to put in the work, trust my coaches and trust my game. That is a big thing. I didn’t really have a full grasp of everything that they were asking me to do (last season). I was kind of learning on the fly, but I know that this coming year I am going to have to raise my game to another level.”