Clemson’s Young Defensive Ends Making Noise

With Xavier Thomas sitting out spring drills, as he rehabs his foot, and Justin Mascoll on the sideline nursing an ankle sprain, Clemson’s younger defensive ends have had an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of their coaches.

A couple of those guys are taking advantage of their opportunity, including Jahiem Lawson. The former local standout was praised by head coach Dabo Swinney following the Tigers’ first stadium scrimmage of the spring last Wednesday.

“Jahiem is really showing some natural things,” Swinney said. “He is tough, physical. He is a natural pass rusher. He is probably a top three pass rusher right now.”

Lawson is the younger brother of former Clemson star Shaq Lawson, who is now a standout in the NFL. The older Lawson was a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, No. 19 overall, in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Jahiem Lawson came to Clemson from nearby Daniel High School, where he helped the Lions to back-to-back state championships, while earning all-state honors. He finished his high school career with 153 tackles, 40 behind the line of scrimmage and 25 sacks. He also produced six forced fumbles.

“He is just a pure pass rusher,” Swinney said.

Swinney also mentioned the play of redshirt sophomore Zaire Patterson, who had a pick-six in the scrimmage last Wednesday, redshirt sophomore Cade Denoff, freshman T.J. Parker and redshirt sophomore Armon Mason.

“Mascoll rolled his ankle, so he has been out. Obviously, XT is out. So, it’s been good,” Swinney said. “Again, it has kind of forced the issue with some of these guys competitively. We are seeing some good things from all of those guys.”

Mason is another player Swinney singled out. The son of NBA All-Star Anthony Mason joined the Clemson squad as a walk-on in 2021.

“Nobody even knows who he is. Y’all better learn who Armon Mason is,” Swinney said. “If he sticks with it here, he is going to be a problem. I mean, he is one of those guys that we have to keep watering him. It might be another year. He is just going to be a redshirt sophomore.”

Mason, who comes from Richmond Hill, Ga., located just minutes from Savannah, is also the nephew of former Clemson standout and Atlanta Falcons All-Pro defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

“It might be another year, but I am telling you. If that kid will stick with it, before he leaves here, he is going to be a problem,” Swinney said. “That guy is fast and is explosive. He came here at about 190 pounds. Now he is about 235. He has about a 38-inch vertical. He can really run, change direction and bend.

“He is still, don’t get me wrong, he is not going to win any awards right now. He still has a ways to go, but he is a kid I just put on your radar. If he hangs in there and keeps going. He is going to help us.”

The Tigers have the next week off for spring break. They will resume spring workouts on March 27.

Clemson’s Annual Orange and White Spring Game will be held on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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