CLEMSON -- Bashaud Breeland's name kept coming up when Clemson coaches were asked which players were making impressions in spring football practice.
During the first days of summer camp, it's the same story. Breeland, a redshirt freshman, is again earning rave reviews from his coaches.
That Breeland has emerged as the team's most intriguing young cornerback is a surprise since recruiting services like Rivals.com rated him as a marginal three-star prospect in 2010, an afterthought on signing day in a class loaded with more highly acclaimed defensive backs.
This August, Breeland appears to be the find of the 2010 class. And the opportunity is there for Breeland to contribute right away since Clemson must replace a pair of veteran cornerbacks who have graduated to the NFL. Marcus Gilchrist was a second-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers; former Fort Dorchester star Byron Maxwell was drafted in the sixth round by the Seattle Seahawks.
Breeland appears to have everything that Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele wants in a cornerback.
"He can fly, he's very strong, he's tenacious," said Steele. "He's a good tackler. He has top end speed with ball skills that helps you back there.
"Based on what we see now and in the spring, he can factor into multiple things if he keeps progressing."
Breeland, 6-1, 190 pounds, has 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash and has receiver-like ball skills.
He also has no fear.
"I think with Bashaud it is his confidence," veteran cornerback Coty Sensabaugh said. "That is the best thing he has going for him."
Breeland is listed as a second-team corner behind starters Xavier Brewer, a junior, and Sensabaugh. At the very least, Breeland will be in the mix to serve as the team's nickel back. But then no one would be surprised to see Breeland in the starting lineup for the season opener against Troy on Sept. 3.
"We are all aiming for a starting position," Breeland said. "(This summer) I'm picking it up faster. It's coming along easier."
Breeland is joined in the secondary by three other young corners in fellow freshman Garry Peters, and sophomores Martin Jenkins and Darius Robinson, all of whom were rated higher than Breeland as four-star prospects back in 2010.
They are the future, and perhaps the present, of the Clemson secondary.
"All of them have talent, all of them make plays," Sensabaugh said. "Of all the young guys, Bashaud has stood out the most."
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