The party is ongoing and will continue for quite some time. Clemson is still the National Champion and will be for another 11 months.
But on March 1st, spring practice will open and head coach Dabo Swinney will not be thinking about what happened on the night of January 9. He will be trying to figure out how he is going to replace the talent that left Clemson in order to get his team ready for Kent State on September 2.
Obviously, the Tigers lose a great deal of talent. But here are five newcomers that could step in and contribute.
Zerrick Cooper, QB, Redshirt Freshman
Swinney stated that junior-to-be Kelly Bryant will get the first opportunity to fill Deshaun Watson’s gigantic shoes. But Cooper has a big arm and many think that eventually the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder will earn the starting job. True freshman Hunter Johnson is a name to watch this spring in the quarterback battle.
Tee Higgins, WR, Freshman
With Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfrow, and others, the wide receiver cupboard is pretty full. With size, speed, and great hands, the five-star prospect looks like the next great Tiger receiver and he will push for serious playing time this fall.
Xavier Kelly, DE, Redshirt Freshman
Last August, the Kansas native was beginning to impress when he was injured in a traffic accident. Now, with Carlos Watkins moving on, Kelly is poised to join Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant in the rotation at defensive end.
Isaiah Simmons, S, Redshirt Freshman
Another Kansas product, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Simmons has the potential to be a physical presence on the Tiger defense. Simmons will compete for playing time at Jadar Johnson’s now vacant strong safety position.
A.J. Terrell, CB, Freshman
At 6-foot-2, Terrell has great length for a cornerback and is a very good athlete. Along with another big corner in rising sophomore Trayvon Mullen, Clemson has some exciting options to replace Cordrea Tankersley.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.