A look at the 5-stars on 2021 roster

The number of 5-stars continues to grow for the Clemson football program

The 2021 Clemson football team is considered one of the favorites to compete for the National Championship, and for good reason.

The Tigers return basically everyone from last year’s defense and have an exciting amount of playmakers- led by heir apparent QB D.J. Uiagalelei– offensively to make you believe this team could be better than the 2020 team that won the ACC Championship and made the CFB Playoff for a sixth-straight time.

As we look at the construction of this roster, though, there is an interesting distinction: The Clemson football program is continuing to grow its 5-star count.

There are 11 total 247 Sports Composite 5-stars on this 2021 roster.

By comparison, here’s a look at how 247 Sports’ Composite 5-stars were on the roster for each of the last few years for the Tigers:

  • 2016 (won National Championship): 4
  • 2017: 6
  • 2018 (won National Championship): 8
  • 2019: 7
  • 2020: 10* (the team started with 11, but finished with 10 when RB Demarckus Bowman transferred early in the season)

A look at the 5-stars on this current Clemson football roster

  • DE Xavier Thomas (No. 3 nationally in 2018)
  • DE KJ Henry (No. 14 nationally in 2018)
  • WR (now CB) Derion Kendrick (No. 26 nationally in 2018)
  • CB Andrew Booth Jr. (No. 23 nationally in 2019)
  • DL Bryan Bresee (No. 1 nationally in 2020)
  • DE Myles Murphy (No. 5 nationally in 2020)
  • QB D.J. Uiagalelei (No. 10 nationally in 2020)
  • LB Trenton Simpson (No. 26 nationally in 2020)
  • OT Tristan Leigh (No. 13 nationally in 2021)
  • RB Will Shipley (No. 31 nationally in 2021)
  • LB/S Barrett Carter (No. 32 nationally in 2021)

When you look at the 5-stars on this roster, you’ve got seven who are either true-freshmen or second-year players who still have four years of eligibility (class of 2020 group).

Out of this group, I would expect every single one of the upper classmen (2020 & up) to hold a starting job or to play starter-level reps this season. You might make the argument that Xavier Thomas is up in the air and potentially K.J. Henry depending on how the depth chart shakes out at the defensive end position, but I still expect both of those guys to play a big amount this season.

Outside of those two guys, it should be expected that Kendrick and Booth Jr. are your starters at cornerback, Murphy and Bresee will start on the defensive line, Uiagalelei will be your starting QB and Simpson will start at SAM/Nickel.

Talk about a ton of talent.

As far as the incoming freshmen are concerned, look for Barrett Carter to make an immediate impact playing a hybrid role. Will Shipley will be used similar to what we saw from Christian McCaffrey and he’ll get on the field early. Tristan Leigh has the ability to make an impact and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he ended up as a starter, but I expect him to begin as a second-stringer at one of the tackle positions.

We’re going to have more in-depth breakdowns of the roster by recruiting rankings, star-ratings and comparisons to the rest of the country over the next few weeks. Just make sure you check back here on Rubbing the Rock.

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