We're breaking down the status of each position on the Clemson football team every week until kickoff.
By Matson Montilla
Position Coach: Nick Eason
After an eventful offseason that saw many long-time Clemson coaches depart for new coaching positions, Clemson now has a handful of new faces joining the staff that weren't with the team prior. One of those new coaches is Eason.
Before his coaching career, Eason had a prolific playing career at Clemson after totaling 153 tackles and 15 sacks in 47 career games. He then got drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft in 2003 and played nine seasons in the league.
After his playing career ended, Eason got right into coaching and was a long-time defensive line coach on numerous NFL teams from 2013-2020 before coaching his lone season at Auburn in 2021.
Eason looks to pick up where former defensive line coach Todd Bates left off. Although a lot will be asked of Eason at his alma mater, Eason has the mindset, knowledge, and drive to achieve any goals set. Both Eason's playing career and coaching career will help him succeed significantly as he has coached both primary front seven schemes (4-3 and 3-4) and helped numerous players excel at their position, including Geno Atkins and Jurrell Casey.
Who are the starters?
Based on the assumption that Clemson will utilize two defensive tackles on most plays, Clemson's projected starters are Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis, which should surprise no one. Despite both suffering severe injuries last season (Bresee: ACL and Davis: Bicep), they are still two of the most talented defensive linemen in the nation and look to prove that their injuries were minor setbacks for major comebacks.
Although Bresee only played four games last season, he still made All-ACC third-team defense. While Davis, who only played eight games, made All-ACC first-team defense, showing just how good they are when on the field.
In two seasons at Clemson, Bresee totaled 47 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and two passes deflected, while Davis totaled 103 total tackles, 9.5 sacks and two passes deflected in three seasons.
Bresee didn't participate in the spring game as he is still recovering from postseason surgery but Davis was firing on all cylinders, especially in the run game.
Overall, Bresee and Davis are on track to be two of the best defensive linemen in the nation and will be an incredible sight on the field, especially with multiple seasons of experience under their belt.
Who is the rising star?
Perhaps the most challenging question to answer is who the rising star is. It isn't difficult to answer the question because there is a lack of talent after Bresee and Davis but quite the opposite. Every defensive tackle on Clemson's depth chart is very talented, making it hard to pick one player.
Whether the answer is Tré Williams, Ruke Orhorhoro, Payton Page, or Etinosa Reuben, there is no wrong choice. Unfortunately, all the above is not an option on the list, so out of the answer choices, Payton Page is my answer.
Although Page did not get much playing time last season, that wasn't a knock on him. It primarily had to do with the fact that he was a true freshman amongst ample talented defensive linemen with experience.
Although the idea of him not seeing the field as much this season as the other three players is definitely a possibility due to experience, don't be surprised if he jumps them on the depth chart, especially after a solid showing at the spring game where he was a force in stopping the run alongside Davis.
With a strong summer, Page can make a huge impact on the defensive line this season and certainly next season as well.
Before he arrived on campus, Page was a four-star recruit and had 191 total tackles, 55 of which were tackles for loss in three high school seasons.
What are the expectations for 2022?
Although the answer may seem absurd, it is far from it. The expectation for Clemson’s defensive tackles group is to be the best in the nation and possibly become the best of all time. With talent throughout the group, don’t be surprised to see the defensive tackles wreaking havoc in the passing and rushing game this season.