We're breaking down the status of each position on the Clemson football team every week until kickoff.
By: Matson Montilla
Position Coach: Mike Reed
Coach Reed has been at Clemson for nine years, coaching the defensive backs since arriving. Ahead of the season, it was announced that Reed will coach special teams as well.
At Clemson, Reed played a huge role in developing some of the best cornerbacks Clemson has seen, including Andrew Booth, A.J. Terrell, and Trayvon Mullen.
Reed played college football at Boston College for four years. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers and played one season for the team and one year in Europe before transitioning to coaching.
Reed was a defensive backs coach for various teams from 2000 to 2012. He joined Clemson in 2013 and has been here since.
"I look around the landscape of college football, and I'm a dinosaur. Not many DB coaches been at an institution more than five years," said Reed about his long tenure at Clemson. "I count my blessings every day."
Starters: Sheridan Jones and Nate Wiggins
Clemson is returning neither of their starters at cornerback since the departure of Booth and Mario Goodrich III for the NFL. Although it will be challenging to replace them, Clemson has the talent to do so.
Jones joined the Tigers in 2019 as a four-star recruit and has patiently waited his turn since. In three seasons with the team, Jones has totaled 40 tackles, two interceptions, and four passes deflected.
Not only is Jones looked upon to fill part of the void left behind in the cornerback room, but he is also expected to be the leader as he is the oldest of the cornerbacks.
"Guys lean on him because he's been here. He's done it. He's actually opened up a little bit more," said Reed on Jones being a leader. "Those young guys who are still starry-eyed, they lean on him for guidance."
Opposite of Jones is true sophomore, Nate Wiggins. Wiggins joined Clemson as a four-star and has gained more interest after being a Tiger for a season. Wiggins is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and has emerged as a great cover corner for Clemson with excellent ball skills.
"Nate's always had the physical ability. Could run, could jump, could do all the athletic things, but on this level, you have to have some size to you," said Reed. "He's now bought into the nutrition side of it. You can tell the way he looks."
With added muscle, Wiggins can be a special player for the team after only playing 130 snaps last season.
Rising Star: Toriano Pride Jr.
Pride Jr. is entering his first year at Clemson after early enrolling in January. He is a talented player who joined the Tigers in great physical shape, which can help him see the field sooner than most.
"Towards the tail end of spring, with the injuries we had in the secondary, the corners, you saw Toriano step up, make plays show people the reason why he is here," said Reed about Pride. "We all went to St. Louis to get him."
With Pride making plays this early, it is exciting to see what the future holds for him at Clemson. As a recruit, Pride was listed as a four-star, according to 247 Sports Composite.
Best of the Rest: Fred Davis II
Davis joined the Tigers as a four-star recruit in the class of 2020, according to 247 Sports Composite. In two seasons at Clemson, Davis compiled 19 tackles and two pass breakups in 320 snaps.
While he is not the projected starter, but he should see the field early and often. During Clemson Media Day, Reed explained that Davis has grown in the area he needed to the most, mentally.
"What I like about Fred is, Fred has grown up," said Reed. "It was never his physical ability, it was more of his mental capacity, and he's actually turned the corner and matured."
With that mindset, Davis can excel for the Tigers.
What will make 2022 a success?
It is a tough ask for any cornerback group to pick up where Booth and Goodrich left off, but Clemson's corners don't need to do just that. The biggest thing Clemson's corners need to do is stay in coverage long enough for Clemson's front seven to work its magic. With a talented defensive line group, the secondary isn't going to need to be spotless to succeed. They just need to stay in coverage long enough for the defensive line to disrupt the passer.
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