To help get you through college football’s slow days of late June and early July — before conference media days launch the preseason festivities — we’re counting down the 12 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 12 most important Clemson Tigers for 2013. One Gamecock and one Tiger every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn.
CLEMSON’S NO. 3 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
SPENCER SHUEY, SENIOR, LINEBACKER
If you’ve been paying attention to this Clemson countdown, you’ve noticed a boatload of juniors with heavy-duty responsibilities for the coming year. Six juniors and no seniors to date. In this age of early draft declarations and one-and-dones, strong senior leadership is a criminally underrated merit. That’s on and off the football field.
Besides the obvious senior leader suiting up for the Tigers this fall, look no further than Spencer Shuey to fill this role. Guys who have logged 36 career games garner respect by default, and Shuey has waited patiently for a starring role; he was a reserve 29 times before his first career start, last Oct. 20 vs. Virginia Tech, and he was outstanding (15 tackles, 2.5 for a loss.) The safety he made against Georgia Tech gave him that opportunity, and Shuey followed up with three more double-digit tackle efforts in the second half of 2012. A linebacker’s job can succinctly be summed in one word – tackling – and Shuey’s got to excel at that task to hold down ACC and SEC offenses. He’s the Tigers’ most important defender entering 2013.
Height/weight: 6-3, 230
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Last year: 93 tackles, just two off the team-leading pace of Jonathan Willard … despite playing 181 fewer snaps
Previously: No. 12 Jr. DT Grady Jarrett, No. 11 Jr. LB Stephone Anthony, No. 10 Fr. TE Jordan Leggett, No. 9 Jr. RT Gifford Timothy, No. 8 Fr. CB Mackensie Alexander, No. 7 Soph. FS Travis Blanks, No. 6 Jr. WR Adam Humphries, No. 5 Jr. DT Josh Watson, No. 4 Jr. DE Vic Beasley
COMING SATURDAY: No. 2