Almost a week out of national signing day, the Clemson Tigers can go into the spring evaluating what they do have there while also considering how some of their new blood can fit into the scheme of things.
While the Tigers did not have a Top 10 class this year, it was in fact the third consecutive year that the Tigers had a Top 15 class. And with that kind of class, there are certainly new pieces that the Tigers can build around for the future.
One of those pieces is the gem of the Tigers' recruiting class: defensive back Mackensie Alexander out of Immokalee, Florida, who the Tigers claimed over Mississippi State on signing day. Alexander is rated by ESPN as the No. 4 player overall and ranked No. 2 at his position in addition to being a 5-star prospect by ESPN. He is also rated as a 4-star prospect by other recruiting services in Rivals, Scout and 24/7.
Alexander fills a major gap in the secondary that the Tigers sorely need and will come in and compete from Day 1. He could find himself starting at cornerback, where athleticism and speed is sorely needed.
The next piece is the Hollywood, Florida native Adrian Baker, rated as a 4-star prospect by ESPN. Baker is another corner who will come in and compete immediately, and he brings much-needed athleticism to a Clemson secondary that found itself very thin all season long in 2012.
Baker will find a home at the cornerback position, and both he and Alexander will become the Tigers' future at cornerback. Baker could find himself in the two-deep corner rotation.
Building pieces on defense are sorely needed, and one underrated piece is linebacker Ben Boulware out of the more local T.L. Hanna in Anderson, South Carolina. A hard-nosed physical linebacker, Boulware made plenty of noise all season long in the middle of T.L. Hanna's defense and continued to do so in the Shrine Bowl and the Under Armor All-American Game.
Boulware was among the first commits the Tigers had in their 2013 class. He has the ability to become the main backup behind current senior Spencer Shuey because of his ability and could avoid a redshirt. Look for him to become a centerpiece among the linebackers in the near future.
Meanwhile, on offense, while there are good pieces, the biggest piece to build around will be running back Tyshon Dye. Some think Dye could end up a starter later on in 2013 or at least become a part of the running back rotation. Rated as a 4-star prospect by ESPN, Dye has drawn comparisons to former Clemson Tiger James Davis and has been described as a bigger version of Andre Ellington. Measuring around 6'1", 210 pounds, Dye will come in and get long looks immediately, and how he will be used in 2013 remains to be seen with Rod McDowell, D.J. Howard and Zac Brooks returning for the spring.
For the Tigers, while this class does not have the star power it did in 2012, it does have pieces for the Tigers to build around on both sides of the football for the foreseeable future.