Clemson boasted arguably the nation’s best defensive line in 2017 with Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence. However, three of them (Wilkins, Bryant and Ferrell) were eligible to turn pro and all were potential first-round picks.
Returning all three seemed like an impossible dream, and all three turning pro was a very real possibility. However, over the course of the past few days, Clemson announced that the entire unit would return in 2018.
Here’s a look at some of their numbers from this past season:
As dominant as the group was, combining for 108 QB pressures, there’s room for even more growth in 2018 if Lawrence can return to full health.
Lawrence had a screw inserted into his toe during the offseason, which reportedly bothered him throughout the year. Additionally, an ankle injury forced him to miss time late in the year.
During his freshman season in 2016, however, it was Lawrence who led Clemson in QB hurries with 37, followed closely by Ferrell and Wilkins (31 apiece).
So the Tigers will be returning four starters on the defensive line, each of whom has a season of 30+ QB pressures under their belt. Our stats only go back to 2015 so there’s no way to verify this, but it’s entirely possible—maybe even likely—that this is the first team in college football history to make such a claim.