Clemson Football: 6 Toughest Players Tigers Face in 2014

Zach GillilandFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

Clemson Football: 6 Toughest Players Tigers Face in 2014

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    The Clemson Tigers play a decent ACC schedule in 2014, but the nonconference games are really tough with Georgia and South Carolina.

    Good teams are made up of good players, so the Tigers will face some of the best in the nation next season. A couple of them were held in check by the Tigers a year ago, but there’s one especially who had a breakout game versus Clemson.

6. Ramik Wilson, Georgia

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Position: Linebacker

    Ramik Wilson was a great player last season on a Georgia defense that didn’t play very well as a group. This year, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt can change that, and Wilson will be one of the leaders on the unit.

    In 2013, he led the SEC in tackles with 133, with 11 of those being tackles for loss.

    Watch out for Wilson when the Tigers take on the Bulldogs, as he will attempt to slow down Clemson’s running game.

5. DeVante Parker, Louisville

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Position: Wide Receiver

    DeVante Parker had a pretty good season in 2013 with 55 catches for 885 yards. He also added 12 touchdowns for the Cardinals.

    With Teddy Bridgewater gone, Parker becomes even more important in this Louisville offense. With Bobby Petrino in as head coach, I expect the quarterbacks to be a strength rather than a weakness, even without much experience.

    This adds up for Parker having another good year numbers wise.

4. Mike Davis, South Carolina

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Position: Running Back

    Mike Davis was a big part of Steve Spurrier’s offense in 2013 with 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns. This season with a pro-style quarterback in Dylan Thompson, expect the Gamecocks to run the ball slightly more than in previous years.

    The Tigers defense was able to shut Davis down in the 2013 meeting, holding him to 22 yards on 15 carries. It will be interesting to see if Clemson can stop him once again in 2014.

3. Cameron Erving, Florida State

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Position: Offensive Tackle

    Cameron Erving is the best player on a Florida State offensive line that may be the best in the country. He is a two-time All-ACC selection and was honored as an All-American last season.

    Erving will be a tough matchup for the Tigers, but with an experienced defensive line, it should be fun to watch. Either Vic Beasley or Corey Crawford will get matched against him, so it should be a battle for sure.

2. Todd Gurley, Georgia

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    Position: Running Back

    Todd Gurley will likely be the best running back in college football next season and will likely see more carries in 2014. With Hutson Mason in as the new quarterback, the Bulldogs will likely take pressure off him by feeding Gurley early and often.

    He accounted for 1,430 total yards last season and 16 total touchdowns, even with three games missed due to an injury.

    The Tigers’ front seven will have to play well in this game to keep Gurley from beating them.

1. Jameis Winston, Florida State

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    Position: Quarterback

    Jameis Winston is the obvious choice for No. 1 on the list because of his numbers a year ago. The Heisman winner finished the season with 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns.

    He also did very well against the Tigers in 2013, going 22-of-34 passing for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Some of that can be attributed to the lack of pressure on the quarterback, but Winston played lights out in that game.

    This season, the Tigers go on the road to play Florida State and will have to find a way to get more pressure on Winston. If he has all day to throw the ball again, it could get ugly for the Tigers.