Our Broward County Bravehearts series continues with a focus on Trayvon Mullen. The uber-talented cornerback for Clemson was the best member of the Tigers secondary last season. The Fort Lauderdale native stood out in his first official year as a starter and performed like he was ready for the spotlight. With Clemson being favorites in the ACC and poised for another playoff berth, Mullen will be vital in 2018. His growth this off-season has given defensive coordinator Brent Venables much excitement and he is the undisputed leader of the cornerbacks.
Broward County Bravehearts; Trayvon Mullen
As a sophomore in high school, Mullen decided to make the move to Coconut Creek High School. The move was surprising due to the fact that the school isn’t particularly known for having strong football teams. That would change with the arrival of Mullen and some other marquee players.
By his senior season the school would be a must-stop destination for college recruiters to visit whenever they were in South Florida. What was once a team that could barely win a game, now was relevant on a national basis, and a hotbed of talent. The “Creek Boyz”, nickname of the team, now had three players that were Army All-Americans with Mullen, Binjimen Victor and Malek Young.
In his own sense, Mullen became a highly coveted cornerback prospect nationally. With the way that football has evolved over the last several years, taller cornerbacks are highly sought after. That was the case for Mullen and he had offers from almost every major school in the country. At six-foot-two and with a 40 yard dash time in the 4.3’s, his athleticism was unique. While at Coconut Creek he was used in all three phases of the game. On offense, he was a wideout that could outrun most any coverage. When he flipped to defense he could take your best offensive weapon out of the gameplan completely. His athleticism really was showcased in the return game when he would display his speed on kick returns and then be able to be shifty on punt returns. At his size, many would not expect he possess that in his arsenal.
Becoming a Tiger
On National Signing day Mullen was faced with a big decision and many suspected that he would become a Tiger. He did become a tiger but it wasn’t the one in which most recruiting “experts” thought. Many believed that Mullen would join LSU. They had success with cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson and Rashard Robinson from the area. Instead he became a trailblazer and signed with a Clemson program that had just lost in the national championship game.
The signing of Mullen was a tremendous victory for the Clemson program, showing that the Tigers could sign kids that normally would stay in the SEC.
As a freshman joining an experienced team that nearly won a national championship, Mullen would have to earn his spot in the rotation. That meant being on special teams and learning from the older veterans that were already cemented in their roles. He would appear in 13 of the 15 games, usually on special teams or in games when Clemson had already put teams away.
The true experience from that season came from learning how things were done by a senior like Cordrea Tankersley. In practice he would regularly be able to matchup against elite players like Mike Williams , a future first round draft pick. His patience would pay off as Clemson would win the national championship his freshman year.
After some players from that national championship team graduated, Mullen would take full advantage and secure a starting position the following season. With his arrival in the lineup, he immediately became the most physically imposing member of that secondary. He lived up to his billing in nationally ranked game against Louisville on the road. Coincidentally then-Cardinals quarterback, Lamar Jackson, who is Mullen’s cousin, broke out on a long run and the only person that could catch him was his family member.
His best performance of the season was against the high powered North Carolina State offense. In that game Mullen logged nine tackles and a pass breakup, earning him the co-defensive player of the week. For the season he would finish with three interceptions, which tied for the team lead. Mullen would also be named honorable mention All-ACC for his performances.
Trayvon Mullen Clemson highlights pic.twitter.com/3vvWjw1k4N
— Cameron Smith (@ClemsoNation) March 12, 2018
With another solid season Mullen, has the potential to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft after his junior year. If Spring football was any indication of what is to come, teams should avoid his side. He recorded two interceptions in the game and returned one of them 84 yards for a touchdown. Even more reason to be confident in Mullen’s play is the return of the starting four defensive lineman for Clemson. For that reason, ensuring they all remain healthy, that front four pressure will help the secondary.