Counting down Clemson’s most valuable players in 2013: No. 12 DT Grady Jarrett

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Reporter’s note: Yeah, Jarrett was posted last week. Jumped the gun on when we ran this series in print. Now we’re back on schedule: one player a day counting down until we arrive at No. 1, on Sunday, July 7. -AB

BY AARON BRENNER AND DARRYL SLATER
abrenner@postandcourier.com and dslater@postandcourier.com

While you’re traveling, they’re training.

While you’re poolside, they’re preparing.

While you’re cooking out and lighting firecrackers at Fourth of July barbecues, they’re eating the right foods and wearing out weight rooms, keeping themselves in tiptop shape for this fall.

There’s no true offseason for college football players dreaming the dream of a Heisman Trophy or BCS National Championship.

While there’s no doubt the majority of 85 Gamecocks and 85 Tigers on scholarship are grinding away in the offseason to fulfill great expectations for 2013, it’s also clear some players and coaches matter more than others.

Since South Carolina and Clemson have high hopes for this upcoming season – and their fans can’t wait to see what unfolds – let’s reveal Post & Courier picks for which 15 Clemson folks and 15 South Carolina figures will have the greatest impact on their respective team’s 2013 campaign.

We’ll count them down, one-by-one, alternating squads on consecutive days, until we reach the Most Valuable Tiger and Most Valuable Gamecock in mid-July, shortly before SEC and ACC Media Days kick us off into preseason form.

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jarrett_gradyCLEMSON’S NO. 12 MOST VALUABLE TIGER:
GRADY JARRETT, JUNIOR, NOSE GUARD

Bend-but-don’t-break is one of those generous terms the media likes to call defenses which give up higher proportions of yards than they do points. Clemson would fall in that category in 2012 – ranking seventh in the ACC is total defense (396.5 yards per game) but third in scoring defense (24.8 points.) If there’s an area defensive coordinator Brent Venables would like to shore up, rushing defense is a good place to pinpoint – 156 yards a clip to opposing running games simply won’t do.

That’s why Jarrett’s a critical cog in the experienced front seven this fall. The Tigers’ 2012 co-defensive player of the year, Jarrett has proven he can make plays happen – only Jonathan Willard, the Tigers’ leading 2012 tackler, had more than Jarrett’s 8.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

He’s smaller than your average bear in the trenches (6-foot-1, 290 pounds) but plays with enough of a mean streak to help contain backs, starting with Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall in week one. Being from Conyers, Ga. – less than 50 miles from Athens – you know Jarrett will be plenty fired up for that opener. Consider, the most productive game of his career (10 tackles, five solo, and a fumble recovery) was last year against … Georgia Tech.

#50 GRADY JARRETT
Position: Defensive tackle
Year: Junior
Height/weight: 6-1/290
Hometown: Conyers, Ga.
Last year: Clemson’s co-defensive player of the year (8.5 tackles for loss, 20 solo tackles)

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