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We're breaking down the status of each position on the Clemson football team every week until kickoff.

By Matson Montilla

Position Coach: Wes Goodwin

On Dec. 14, 2021, Goodwin was named the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for the Tigers. The Cheez-It Bowl was the first game he coached in his new role, and he put together a solid defensive effort. The Tigers’ defense held Iowa State to 13 points and under 300 total yards of offense.

Interestingly, to start his coaching career, he was a part of Mississippi State’s baseball staff for three seasons before switching to coaching football. In 2009, he joined Clemson as a graduate assistant for his first role in college football. Three years later, he earned a full-time position at Clemson as a defensive analyst before making the jump to the NFL as the assistant to head coach Bruce Arians with the Arizona Cardinals.

He then returned to Clemson as the senior defensive assistant in 2018 and has been with the program since.

Throughout his career, Goodwin has been held in a high regard by players and coaches.

Starters: Barrett Carter and Trenton Simpson

Clemson’s outside linebackers are a can’t miss duo of size, strength, and speed. Both were five-star commits throughout their recruitment and are proving why. Simpson looks to solidify himself as a first-round pick, while Carter hopes to make this duo the best one-two punch in the nation.

Simpson has been held in high regard in his two seasons at Clemson after tallying monstrous numbers, totaling 93 tackles (19 tackles for loss), 10.5 sacks, and two passes deflected in his career. Not only is Simpson a disruptor in the backfield, but he is also incredible in pass coverage.

“He’s a freaky athlete… He can cover like a safety, but he can blitz like a D-End (defensive end),” said Coach Goodwin.

Simpson is arguably Clemson’s most important player on defense since he causes problems at every level for offenses.

Like Simpson, Carter is a natural athlete. During his lone season, Carter had 16 tackles (two tackles for loss) and a pass deflection. He also had the infamous scoop and score against Florida State as time expired to propel Clemson to a 30-20 victory. Although his stats aren’t eye-popping, it is hard to ask for much more from a true freshman.

Not only does Carter wreck opposing backfields, but he can drop back in coverage too. Throughout spring practice, Clemson has entertained the idea of playing him at the dime, putting Carter in more pass coverage situations.

Both players hope to have a tremendous impact for the Tigers through their unique versatility.

Best of the Rest and Rising Star: Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

Like Carter, Trotter committed to Clemson in the 2021 recruiting class and was a top recruit at his position. During his first season at Clemson, Trotter compiled 15 tackles (one tackle for loss) and one sack.

Although he has a small sample size of plays to deceiver between from Clemson, his tape from those plays and high school demonstrates that he is ready to take another step forward.

Trotter has a knack for getting to the backfield, especially against the run, and he thrives on getting from point A to point B very fast. Trotter has a good blend of closing speed and understanding of play development that helps him pile up tackles while minimizing chances for extra yards.

What will make 2022 a success?

The goal for the outside linebacker group is to be the stabilizing force between the defensive line and the secondary. With a younger secondary group, the outside linebacker group should do their best to help out in pass coverage as much as possible, especially since they have the players to do so. Yes, they should also be disruptors in the backfield, but the ultimate goal is to have the right blend of rushing and coverage help.