Cade Klubnik headlines 5 Clemson football players with most to prove for preseason practices (2024)

CLEMSON – The 2024 season is a prove-it year forClemson football.

The Tigers and coach Dabo Swinney finished with a 9-4 record and missed making the ACC championship and the College Football Playoff for the third straight season. They return 10 players who started on offense and eight on defense. They also added the 11th-ranked recruiting class in 2024, per the 247Sports Composite, that included two five-star players.

Here are five players with the most to prove entering the summer:

Quarterback Cade Klubnik

For the Tigers to return to the standard of winning national championships, the former five-star recruit must elevate his game in his junior season. Klubnik improved in his sophom*ore year, recording 2,844 passing yards with 19 touchdowns to finish among the top quarterbacks in the ACC.

Still, Klubnik was sacked 28 times and had nine interceptions. In Clemson's spring game, he completed 50% of his passes, threw an interception and was sacked two times. To avoid injuries to the quarterbacks, Swinney gave them non-contact status and quickly whistled a sack whenever a defender got within arms' length of the quarterbacks.

Klubnik improved his rapport with his skill position teammates andhis post-snap recognitionduring spring practices. He must continue to do so in his second year under offensive coordinator Garrett Riley.

Wide receiver T.J. Moore

Moore, one of the two five-star recruits in the 2024 signing class, did not arrive at Clemson until May. Although he is behind the other freshmen who enrolled in December and January, he can have a Day 1 impact on the Tigers' offense like wide receiver Bryant Wesco Jr.

The wideout is already getting noticed, setting personal records in bench press, squat and 10-yard split according to his social media account. He must showcase his highly touted abilities in the summer to earn immediate playing time.

Linebacker Kobe McCloud

With linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. going pro, it allowed McCloud to receive reps at strongside linebacker alongside Barrett Carter and Wade Woodaz in the spring. The redshirt sophom*ore recorded 17 tackles (3.5 for loss) and a forced fumble over 11 games (two starts) last season.

McCloud is a versatile, athletic player and has the chance to have an every game impact. If he builds on his strong spring, he can be a starter in Clemson's 4-3 personnel.

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Cornerback Jeadyn Lukus

Lukus, who logged five tackles and two pass deflections over seven games (four starts) last season, missed spring practices after having right hip surgery in December. With cornerbacks Nate Wiggins and Sheridan Jones, he has the most experience in Clemson's cornerback room.

The junior will have to provide veteran leadership and show he can rebound from the surgery as Shelton Lewis and Avieon Terrell both provided glimpses of their potential as freshmen.

KickerRobert Gunn III

Gunn lost the starting kicker job last season after missing three field goals and an extra point in the first three games. This led to Swinney bringing on former walk-on Jonathan Weitz. Freshman Nolan Hauser is now the mix for the starting job.

During the spring game, Gunn made a 36-yard field goal but missed from 55 and 37 yards. Hauser was 2-for-2, converting from 29 and 48 yards. Swinney still hasn't announced who the starting kicker will be, but Gunn must step up to win the job.

Derrian Carter covers Clemson athletics for The Greenville News and the USA TODAY Network. Email him atdcarter@gannett.comand follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @DerrianCarter00

Cade Klubnik headlines 5 Clemson football players with most to prove for preseason practices (2024)
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