Last year, Clemson was on the cusp of being a top-tier college football program.
Unfortunately, its stellar 10-4 season came to an abrupt end. The Tigers ran into a strong West Virginia team led by stud QB Geno Smith in the Orange Bowl and were crushed 70-33.
Heading into 2012, the Tigers are looking to get to the next level.
To do so, they hope to bolster their defense so they can hang with stronger offensive teams like West Virginia. They've gotten off to a good start, as Clemson's next two recruiting classes are stacked with defensive talent. The most notable addition this year is four-star DB Travis Blanks.
But 2013 is what most Clemson fans are looking forward to. That 's when five-star DE Robert Nkemdiche, four-star ATH Jayron Kearse and 4-star DT Kevin Dodd arrive. Each has the potential to bring a new look to the defensive unit.
Importantly, the Tigers are covered in every defensive aspect. They have multiple options at every defensive position.
So how are the Tigers going to score, both in 2012 and moving forward?
If last year is any indication, 2012 will be all about rising sophomore and AP first-team All-American WR Sammy Watkins. He led the Tigers to a 38-10 ACC Championship victory over Virginia Tech with 177 all- purpose yards and a touchdown. For the season, he had 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Watkins is one of the best and most exciting players in college football, but he will need help if the Tigers are to compete with top-level talent in BCS games.
On the line, Clemson will have four-star recruit Isaiah Battle to help create time for QB Tajh Boyd to find Watkins. Four-star WR Germone Hopper will take attention off the All-American and allow Watkins to take advantage of more open space.
Looking further ahead, the Tigers will add four-star wide receivers Mike Williams and Demarcus Robinson in 2013. Joining them will be four-star running backs Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman. Add in Watkins as a junior, and the Tigers' offense is looking pretty explosive.
Clemson was close last year. However, with bolstered defensive recruiting efforts for 2012 and 2013, the Tigers figure to at least contend with some of the nation's best.
They've also ensured that their offense will continue to put up big numbers and house one of the college football's best young talents.
The weaker ACC offers the Tigers a good chance to make a BCS game in 2012.
In 2013, everyone needs to watch out.