SUNSET, S.C.—Clemson cornerbacks coach Mike Reed will once again face the challenge of replacing a dominant boundary corner.
Two years ago, he faced questions regarding how he would replace Mackensie Alexander—who left school early and was a second-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings, but the emergence of senior Cordrea Tankersley quickly erased those questions.
However, following last season’s national championship victory, the Tigers were once again facing questions about who would step into the void, but the Tiger coach believes he may have his guy as they prepare to begin fall camp in two weeks—that guy would be sophomore K’Von Wallace.
“Right now, he’s (K’Von Wallace) doing a heck of a job over at the boundary corner,” Reed said. “Because of his length, his physicality, his athleticism—it allows him to use that over at the boundary corner—which typically is your bigger, more physical corner and that’s the attributes that he has.
The thing that makes Wallace such a special talent on defense is his ability to play multiple positions, all at the same level.
“Now, he’s going to sit in at the boundary corner. Still be able to play some nickel, some dime and have the flexibility to go back to safety if we need him,” Reed said.
While Wallace appears to be emerging as the next dominant boundary corner for the Tigers, a second battle has emerged at the field corner spot—where redshirt graduates Marcus Edmond and Ryan Carter, last season’s starter, are battling for the starting job.
But even in the midst of the battle, regardless of who earns the job, both will be relied upon to help lead a young group of Tiger defensive backs.
“They’ve been battle tested. At the end of the day, you know that they’ve already been thrown in the grease and that’s what you like about those guys,” Reed said. “They’re journeymen, they’ve played a lot of ball and both of their leadership qualities rub off on the younger guys.”
It is their leadership, and the leadership of the coaching staff, Reed believes will give the Tigers the edge they need to ensure continued success.
“Defensive guys are always on edge—that’s our nature,” Reed continued. “Because in a split second, you have to go from zero to 100 real quick, because they want to play. On the corner side, it is really just Ryan Carter and Marcus Edmonds that rotated in and out. So, they’re competitive, because those guys are playing for playing time.
‘They don’t want to sit on that bench, and Trayvon Mullen, who was barely used last year, he wants to become a starter. So that edge is there. And us as coaches, we’re very competitive—so, we’re going to create that sense of urgency in practice every day.”
Trayvon Mullen’s High IQ:
Sophomore cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who posted 15 tackles in 115 snaps (13 games) last season, has emerged as a threat to one of the cornerback positions—or, actually, both cornerback positions.
According to Reed, Mullen possesses a unique football IQ that allowed him, as a freshman, to come in and learn both the boundary corner and the field corner.
Now the only thing left for Mullen to do is to get stronger.
“The thing that I like about Trayvon is that he knows both sides,” Reed said. “A lot of people think that the corner, they both play the same position. Boundary corner is totally different than field corner, and for a young kid, like himself, to come in and learn both positions it tells a lot about his football IQ. What he needs to do is change his body and get a little stronger. A lot of those guys in high school, they are usually the big guy on campus, so the physicality part, usually sometimes, you’ve got to come in and adjust. And he’s actually done everything.”