Biggest shoes to fill: Clemson

No, it’s not “Clemson Day” on the ACC blog, it just happened to fall that way with the top 25 countdown and alphabetical order of the “biggest shoes to fill” series. The Tigers do start spring ball tomorrow, though, so here’s a closer look at who will be the most difficult player to replace and who’s next in line:

OUT: DE Andre Branch. He had 197 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, 40 quarterback pressures and 11 pass breakups in 1,886 snaps over 48 games (27 starts) in his career. He made at least one tackle in 41 straight games and was a team co-captain. He finished 2011 first in the ACC in sacks per game and third in tackles for loss per game (1.2).

IN: Corey Crawford will actually play the position, but all eyes will be on Malliciah Goodman to see if he can bring similar pressure on quarterbacks. Crawford, a true freshman last year, was Branch’s backup at bandit end for most of the season. He had 25 tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures and two pass breakups in 220 snaps over 13 games. Goodman has started 15 career games, 14 of which came last year. He had 59 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and 14 quarterback pressures in 767 snaps over 14 games. The 767 snaps set a school record for a defensive lineman.

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