No. 3 Grady Jarrett

Position: Defensive tackle

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-1, 295

Hometown: Conyers, Ga.

Last year: 83 tackles and 11 tackles for loss each ranked third on the Tigers (his 14 QB pressures ranked second).

To help get you through college football's slow days of early July - before conference media days launch the preseason festivities - we've counted down the 10 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 10 most important Clemson Tigers for 2014. 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.


Last fall's All-ACC teams were released on the Monday after the regular season's conclusion, when Clemson reporters were gathered for player interviews. There was a noticeable groan regarding one glaring omission.

The prevailing impression: no way there were six defensive tackles in the conference better than Grady Jarrett.

A bit of context: Tough call. Aaron Donald was a no-brainer, while Nikita Whitlock, Timmy Jernigan and Jay Bromley were each defensible. Yeah, Virginia Tech had a better defense than Clemson, but maybe including two Hokie run-stuffers over Jarrett was a bit much.

As an honorable mention All-ACC selection, Jarrett was asked a day or two later if he was considering submitting paperwork for an NFL draft grade. Jarrett, in typical mature nature, politely said he was not and firmly insisted there was unfinished business for his senior year of 2014 - and he intended to occupy his time with that.

That wasn't good news for Clemson. It was great news. Terrific news.

There isn't nearly enough space here (especially thanks to this writer's babbling above) to illustrate Jarrett's impact on Clemson's defense. It's more than the stats; it always is for defensive tackles. His leadership-by-example, his guidance, his durability, his dependability - all of it was instrumental to Clemson evolving from a poor defense to a pretty darn good one.

If Jarrett has his way, that pretty darn good one will become one of the nation's best this coming fall, and perhaps then Jarrett will be considered one of the league's best six defensive tackles.

- Aaron Brenner


Coming up: No. 2: Vic Beasley