Five hardest players for the Clemson football team to replace in 2018:
1. Dorian O’Daniel, LB
The first-team All-American and Butkus Award finalist was perhaps the MVP of Clemson’s team. O’Daniel led the Tigers in tackles with 104 and added 11.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also intercepted a pair of passes, returning both for touchdowns. O’Daniel’s versatility as far as excelling in pass coverage, stopping the run and rushing the passer will be missed.
2. Ryan Carter, CB
A co-captain and Clemson’s best defensive back, Carter excelled not only as a player but as a leader. Carter started every game this past season and was named honorable mention All-ACC. He also tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, including a pick-six against South Carolina. Carter finished this past season with 31 tackles, two tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups and a forced fumble, in addition to his three interceptions. The Tigers have depth at cornerback, but Carter will be missed.
3. Tyrone Crowder, OL
A third-team All-American and first-team All-ACC selection, Crowder was a big part of Clemson’s success running the football in 2017 as the Tigers averaged 194 rushing yards per game. Crowder was also a leader, serving as a co-captain for the Tigers. He played in all 14 games with 13 starts and had 17 knockdown blocks this past season. Clemson rotated several offensive linemen in 2017, but Crowder was one of the best.
4. Ray-Ray McCloud, WR
The Florida native was perhaps Clemson’s shiftiest receiver and finished third on the team with 49 receptions and 503 receiving yards while starting all 14 games. The Tigers will miss McCloud’s ability to turn a short throw into a long gain, as well as his ability on special teams. McCloud had one of the biggest plays of Clemson’s season when he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown against N.C. State, and he earned second-team All-American honors from Pro Football Focus for his punt return ability.
5. Deon Cain, WR
The former five-star recruit led Clemson in receiving yards with 734 and receiving touchdowns with six in 2017. Cain did not have the monster breakout season some expected but still was a third-team All-ACC selection. He was probably Clemson’s most talented receiver but struggled with consistency. The Tigers should still be deep at receiver with Hunter Renfrow, Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, Diondre Overton and others.