1. OL Matt Bockhorst: Clemson lost both of its starting guards from 2017 with Taylor Hearn opting to enter the NFL draft after his junior season and Tyrone Crowder graduating. Junior John Simpson will likely fill Hearn’s spot at left guard, but Bockhorst will have a chance to compete for the other starting job. The Ohio native was rated as a four-star prospect and No. the 17 guard in the country by the 247Sports Composite rankings coming out of high school in Ohio and made solid progress during his redshirt freshman season.
2. DB LeAnthony Williams: A former four-star recruit from Georgia, Williams was a consensus top 250 player in the country coming out of high school. Clemson lost two members of its starting secondary in cornerback Ryan Carter and safety Van Smith. The Tigers still return plenty of talent and experience, but Williams has a chance to get on the field and provide depth. Clemson likes having the option to sub cornerbacks throughout the game.
3. DE Logan Rudolph: The only player on this list who has already played in a college football game, Rudolph appeared in two games last season before a shoulder injury ended his year. The former Northwestern star had three tackles and a tackle for loss in those two games and was going to add depth to Clemson’s defensive front. The Tigers return four studs on the defensive line and brought in a pair of five-star defensive ends, but Rudolph will be in the mix.
4. OL Blake Vinson: The Florida native is a versatile offensive lineman who will likely not compete for a starting job in 2018 but will have the opportunity to receive playing time. The Tigers are committed to building depth up front and will play as many linemen as they feel deserve time. Vinson can play guard or tackle.
5. LB Baylon Spector: A two-way player in high school, Spector is playing linebacker at Clemson after also playing quarterback at Calhoun High in Georgia. The Tigers are deep at linebacker, despite losing perhaps their team MVP from 2017 in Dorian O’Daniel. Spector is unlikely to contribute much defensively with so many veterans in front of him, but he could have an opportunity to make some plays on special teams.