ISAIAH BATTLE

Position: Left tackle

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-7, 275

Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Last year: Started the final four games at right tackle, earning experience as the heir apparent to All-ACC left tackle Brandon Thomas

Previously we illustrated why Shaq Anthony's step up was significant to Clemson's success in 2014, and perhaps you've noticed the first two offensive players listed in this series were linemen.

It's not exactly rock-solid logic, only because Clemson's offensive line, while iffy the past three years, has been part of top-10 yardage units, anyhow. However, without Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins pulling off spectacles, it stands to reason Cole Stoudt and his weapons could use more time to operate around an underachieving group of blockers. Clemson permitted more than 30 sacks in each of the three years of the Boyd era. Some blame is on the quarterback, but not all.

Ryan Norton is a quality center, and the Tigers should figure it out at guard. However, if Isaiah Battle plays to a far inferior level to his mentor and predecessor Brandon Thomas, the Tigers are in trouble.

Big trouble.

That's kind of what Battle has been in two years: big and trouble. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris has begged the team's tallest player to come into his own, and he's definitely shown flashes of greatness, like against LSU in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Standing strong against top defensive ends from LSU, South Carolina and Ohio State - as Battle has proven in times of turmoil - must be a glimpse of the future.

-Aaron Brenner

Previously: