Athlon Sports ranks Clemson in top tier of ‘Way-Too-Early’ top 25


Travis Etienne-Clemson-Clemson Tigers

Clemson is ranked second in Athlon Sports’ “Way-Too-Early” top 25 college football rankings. The Tigers check in one spot behind – you may have guessed it – Alabama.

Here’s what Athlon had to say about Clemson:

The Tigers should be favored to win their fourth consecutive ACC title next year. The offense will return nearly intact for coach Dabo Swinney, starting with quarterback Kelly Bryant and running backs Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne. While Bryant is the returning starter under center, five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence joins the mix this offseason. His progress will be a storyline to watch in offseason workouts, especially after the offense struggled in the Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama. Left tackle Mitch Hyatt anchors a line that must replace three starters on the interior. The receiving corps should be among the best in the nation with the return of Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud and Amari Rodgers. Under the play-calling of coordinator Brent Venables, the Tigers will once again rank among the best on defense in college football. However, Venables has a few voids to fill at each level. The line could lose ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant and tackle Christian Wilkins to the NFL. Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel departs after a standout senior campaign, and cornerback Ryan Carter also expires his eligibility. Tackle Dexter Lawrence, linebacker Kendall Joseph and cornerback Trayvon Mullen will be the leaders for next year’s defense. The schedule isn’t too daunting, but road trips to Texas A&M and Florida State are on tap next fall.

The Tigers are joined by another ACC school in the upper tier – Miami is ranked fifth.

Dabo Swinney’s squad has plenty of talent returning. Despite its disappointing end to the season, the Tigers are in a great spot moving forward.

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