To help college football fans get through the dog days of summer before conference media days launch the preseason festivities in mid-July, The Post and Courier is counting down the 12 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 12 most important Clemson Tigers for 2013. The daily series continues today with No. 11 for each team and concludes with the No. 1 players on July 7.
CLEMSON’S No. 11 MOST VALUABLE TIGER: STEPHONE ANTHONY, JUNIOR, LINEBACKER
This could be considered a make-or-break year for junior Stephone Anthony, the former blue-chip commit. His hot start included 38 tackles in his first four games of 2012 – which ranked seventh in the ACC and tops among non-juniors or seniors, at that time – followed by 2.5 tackles for a loss at Boston College. But Anthony lost his starting middle linebacker job to Spencer Shuey at the season’s midpoint. His numbers dwindled down the stretch, seeing the field for just 20 snaps in the final three games (none against South Carolina) and making just one tackle in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Shuey is listed as the starting will linebacker, making way for Anthony to redeem himself in the middle. He’s bulked up to 240 pounds, and he has the athleticism to handle that weight, but performance almost always trumps potential – especially when that potential has teased and tantalized for multiple years.
One of defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ former Oklahoma players, Kellen Jones, is now eligible after sitting out last year and could push Anthony for playing time.
#42 Stephone Anthony Position: Linebacker Year: Junior Height/weight: 6-3/235 Hometown: Polkton, N.C. Last year: Clemson’s fourth-leading tackler with 77 tackles