CLEMSON — Heading into the 2021 season, cornerback remains one of Clemson’s biggest question marks. The Tigers are looking for better play on the perimeter and there are plenty of names on the roster in the mix for playing time.
Fred Davis II is not one of the names that come up very often but the sophomore has a tremendous chance to carve out a role on the defense this fall.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native was a top-75 recruit in the class of 2020. Davis was one of eight players that ranked in the top-100 of Clemson’s class that year. The Tigers had major competition for the blue-chip defensive back but were able to pull a significant recruiting win.
As a true freshman, Davis had talent that was too good to keep off the field. The rookie played nearly 200 snaps over 11 games in his first season on campus. In the ACC Championship against Notre Dame, Davis recorded two tackles to go along with two pass breakups. This is a player who checks a lot of boxes.
The All-American Bowl selection in high school is a smooth athlete outside with some length and fluid running ability. His frame needs to add some bulk so the young player can physically hold up, but as an athlete, you can’t ask for a better-looking prospect. Davis can run, jump and showed the required ball tracking to makes plays on the football field. In high school, Davis recorded four interceptions and 30 pass breakups in his career.
After getting his feet wet as a true freshman, now could be the time Davis makes a jump at cornerback. The Tigers have veterans Andrew Booth Jr., Mario Goodrich, and Sheridan Jones all returning, but this still feels like a wide-open competition. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables knows the defense needs to get better in a hurry on the outside.
“We’ve dominated the perimeter the last 10 years since I’ve been here and the perimeter has not been an issue,” Venables told the media during spring practice. “I thought last year we were soft on the perimeter.”
True freshman Nate Wiggins got most of the cornerback buzz out of spring ball, but this is a position that remains unsettled. Clemson has six legitimate guys who could end up starting at cornerback, and Davis is one of those in the mix.
Don’t be surprised if the fluid athlete becomes a major contributor on defense in 2021.