Clemson Tigers’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Including Barrett Carter, Peter Woods

    Clemson has plenty of young talent on the roster in 2024, and these top 10 returning players can boost the Tigers’ ACC title hopes.

    The Clemson Tigers had a disappointing season by their high standards in 2023. However, their young talent showed flashes to believe the team can improve in 2024. With tremendous talent returning to Death Valley, these players have the potential to be impactful for Clemson in the upcoming college football campaign.

    Clemson Tigers’ Top 10 Returners in 2024

    Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes on each team’s roster page to open spring camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

    10) Khalil Barnes, DB

    Named to the CFN 2023 Third-Team All-ACC Defense, Khalil Barnes had an outstanding freshman season playing predominantly from the slot. While the Tigers’ secondary didn’t stoke fear into opponents, Barnes was a bright spark expected to set alight in 2024.

    The Clemson defensive back had an extremely productive season, playing in 13 games and starting seven a year ago. With 38 total tackles, five for a loss, one sack, three interceptions, six passes defended, and a forced fumble for a touchdown, he had a record-setting year under Swinney’s tenure.

    9) DeMonte Capehart, DT

    DeMonte Capehart is entering his fifth year with Clemson in 2024 and is primed for a breakout season with talent leaving for the NFL. The Tigers’ defensive tackle emerged as a real problem for opponents at the end of the 2023 season, showcasing exactly what he can bring in the fall.

    If Capehart can keep himself on track, then he has the potential to explode in a more prominent role. That is because ESPN reported that Capehart was arrested in February, which led to Clemson suspending him from the team while investigations were ongoing. However, he was reinstated to the team a few weeks later.

    Capehart has flashed the production with 15 total tackles, five for a loss, one sack, and one forced fumble from 179 snaps. He will be a fundamental weapon for the Tigers’ defense if he can be more consistent in the coming campaign.

    8) R.J. Mickens, S

    R.J. Mickens has had an extremely productive college career and has been the essence of consistency and reliability in the Tigers’ secondary. He now enters his fifth year in the program and will be the leading veteran presence in 2024.

    The son of Ray Mickens (who attended Texas A&M and was drafted to the NFL in 1996), the veteran Clemson safety not only has the bloodlines, but also the production. In his four years in Death Valley, he has racked up over 1,400 snaps in 47 games — with 17 starts — for 144 total tackles, 7.5 for a loss, five interceptions, and eight pass breakups.

    7) Tyler Brown, WR

    Tyler Brown is expected to be the WR1 for the Tigers in 2024 after leading the team in receiving yards last season. The Clemson passing attack stagnated in 2023, and with Beaux Collins entering the transfer portal, the offense needs players to step up.

    After showing flashes in his freshman season, Brown can be that receiver. With 52 receptions for 531 receiving yards and four touchdowns, big things are expected from the explosive receiver, who has the talent to be even better in 2024.

    6) T.J. Parker, DE

    In only his freshman season T.J. Parker jointly led the team with 5.5 sacks in 2023. The Tigers’ defensive end is a rising star and will occupy a more influential role in 2024. Parker started in three games but played 557 snaps in 13 appearances, tallying 32 total tackles, 12.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, and two pass deflections.

    MORE: 2024 Clemson Tigers Football Roster

    Parker was named to CFN’s 2023 Freshman All-American Defense a year ago, and the four-star recruit enters his sophomore season with expectations on his shoulders. Clemson’s star pass rusher was a favorite of Coach Swinney a year ago and has the talent and ability to take college football by storm in 2024.

    5) Jake Briningstool, TE

    2023 was Jake Briningstool’s first year as a starter, and he flashed incredible pass-catching ability. He now needs to take the next step in his senior year. The Tigers’ tight end had 50 receptions for 498 yards and five touchdowns last season.

    Briningstool will enter 2024 as one of the top returning tight ends in the country, and his ability to take over games and become a consistent option in Clemson’s passing game should only see him improve.

    4) Cade Klubnik, QB

    Cade Klubnik has potential, but he has a long way to go if he is to realize it. When it came to average depth of target (7.0 yards) and average yards per attempt (6.1 yards), Klubnik was statistically one of the worst in college football, and he failed to step up in pivotal moments. However, he will be critical to Clemson achieving its aims in 2024.

    In 2023, the Clemson QB completed 290 of his 454 passes for 2844 yards, 19 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. If Klubnik improves his decision-making and establishes a stronger connection with his receivers, the Clemson offense can be much more productive this coming season.

    3) Phil Mafah, RB

    With Will Shipley heading to the NFL, Phil Mafah will get his opportunity to be the Tigers feature back in 2024. After ending the season in exceptional form with a record-breaking performance in the Gator Bowl victory over Kentucky, Clemson fans should be excited about Mafah’s potential in 2024.

    Last season, Mafah recorded 195 rushing attempts for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns as an energetic, physical running back. However, at the end of the season, the Tigers’ RB really shone, recording 611 yards and nine touchdowns in his last six games.

    2) Peter Woods, DT

    Peter Woods is coming off an outstanding year, and he was named CFN’s 2023 Freshman Interior Defender of the Year. The Tigers’ defensive tackle registered 26 total tackles, 2.5 for a loss and a forced fumble in 307 snaps in 12 games — two as a starter. The Clemson coaching staff also credits Woods with 10 QB pressures, which led the team.

    Ready for more playing time in his sophomore season, the talented interior defensive lineman is a star in the making. If he can turn the flashes in 2023 into consistent production, he can become the next top defensive tackle off the Clemson conveyor belt.

    1) Barrett Carter, LB

    Barrett Carter is one of the top linebackers in the nation and surprisingly opted to return to school when he could have been a high selection in the NFL Draft. The linebacker will be an important player for the Tigers again in 2024 and can boost his NFL credentials.

    KEEP READING: 2024 ACC Power Rankings

    Coach Swinney said that Carter is “one of the best pure football players I’ve had in 20 years,” and he has had the onfield production to match.

    In his three years in Death Valley, the outstanding linebacker has had 151 total tackles, 21 for a loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, 17 passes deflected, and three interceptions. A versatile playmaker, there are big things expected of Cater in the fall.

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