Clemson football has turned into one of the best programs in the entire sport in recent years.
The Tigers have made three straight College Football Playoffs. The 2016 Clemson football team captured the national championship against Alabama.
For a long time, Clemson was a bit of a sleeping giant in the ACC. Now, it is definitively the league’s best team, and a national power.
It looked like Clemson might be in for a bit of a rebuild entering the 2017 season. Instead, the team cruised to another conference title and playoff berth.
While the semifinal loss to Alabama was probably tough for Tiger fans to sit through, as a whole the year taught us all something very important; Clemson football is a lot more than Deshaun Watson.
In 2018, Clemson enters its second year in the post-Watson era. The Tigers will lose a number of guys to the NFL again, but the program should reload just fine.
What can we expect from Clemson this fall? Here are some bold predictions for the season ahead.
1. Kelly Bryant will lose the starting quarterback job.
Clemson has been recruiting like crazy at the quarterback position. Kelly Bryant was a very strong starter for the Tigers in 2017, but he has to watch his back this year.
In 2017, Clemson brought in five-star quarterback Hunter Johnson. He played a little bit this fall.
This year, No. 1 recruit Trevor Lawrence is Clemson bound. I think one of those two blue-chip passers will wind up taking over as the No. 1 quarterback during the season, but don’t expect Bryant to go down without a fight.
2. Clemson will go undefeated at home.
Death Valley’s a really tough place to play. I’m not sure any of this year’s opponents are up to the challenge.
Here is Clemson’s 2018 home slate: Furman, Georgia Southern, Syracuse, NC State, Louisville, Duke, South Carolina. A few of those teams could be pretty strong, but I don’t see any landing a win on the road against the Tigers.
3. Travis Etienne will be first team All-ACC.
Etienne was a true freshman in 2017, and he showed some serious talent. The blazing fast Louisiana native ran for 766 yards and 13 touchdowns, and averaged over seven yards per carry.
He was a third team All-ACC selection this fall, without even being a true focus of the offense. Expect him to break out for more than 1,000 yards in 2018, and be a first-team back for the Tigers.
4. Clemson’s 2019 recruiting class will be a Top 5 group.
Dabo Swinney’s accomplished a ton at Clemson. He has not yet signed a top five class, though.
That will change next year. Clemson only has two commits for 2019 so far, but with this recent string of success and playoff performances, recruiting should continue to improve.
5. Clemson will make the College Football Playoff for the fourth year in a row.
Yeah, this essentially means that we see the Clemson football winning the ACC again. That doesn’t seem so bold at this point.
The defense may not be the monster that it was this fall, but the offense should take a step forward as the passing game picks up behind Johnson or Lawrence, and once again, the Tigers will be playing for a national title.