Spring Winners: Offense


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Spring practice is a time for starters and key reserves to get in valuable work, but it’s also a time for players to catch the eye of coaches and make themselves a part of the picture when it comes to playing time.

For several Clemson players, they were able to do just that this spring and today we’ll take a look at five offensive players who were helped by their strong springs.

*TIGHT END Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
Fr. Tight End
#16 6-6, 235
Navarre, FL

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– Leggett told TigerNet back in December that he was deciding whether to enroll early at Clemson – beginning in January – or wait and get a new car from his parents in late January, experience his final semester of high school and enjoy all of the experiences that a senior year of high school has to offer. He made the choice to enroll early, and that turned out to be the right one. The Clemson coaches were hoping to redshirt Leggett this season, but after an ACL injury to projected starter Sam CooperSam Cooper
RS Jr. Tight End
#86 6-5, 250
Brentwood, TN

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(one that will likely keep him out all season) and Leggett’s emergence as a future star during the spring, he will likely not only miss redshirting but will also be a part of the offense. Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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told us that Leggett not only surprised people out on the field, he impressed the coaches with his work in the meeting and film rooms, and how he was able to translate the inside work to success on the field.

“Leggett just caught on, and he was probably the surprise of the spring for me with how quickly he caught on,” Swinney said. “We ask our tight ends to do a lot of things. It’s really uncanny to see a freshman grasp it the way he did. He is a big old boy and I think he will come in here at 240-plus.”

*QUARTERBACK Cole StoudtCole Stoudt
Jr. Quarterback
#8 6-5, 205
Dublin, OH

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– Many people thought it was a foregone conclusion that freshman quarterback Chad KellyChad Kelly
RS Fr. Quarterback
#11 6-2, 210
Buffalo, NY

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would win the backup job outright, but Stoudt and Kelly battled for the spot all spring and the coaches raved about Stoudt’s work ethic and grasp of the offense. Stoudt told us he came in this spring with mindset that he wouldn’t be passed on the depth chart.

“Every spring is big,” Stoudt said, “but this is one is pretty big. Next year when Tajh is gone it’s just going to be me and Chad battling out again. (I’m) just trying to get as much as I can done here to be the best as I can be. Trying to get some playing time next year – I’m hoping I will.”

Stoudt gained experience last season, and while Kelly hopes to play by mid-season or perhaps later in the season, Stoudt is the only viable option behind Boyd. Kelly is out with the injury, Tony McNealTony McNeal
RS Jr. Quarterback
#12 6-0, 195
Chester, SC

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quit football and Morgan RobertsMorgan Roberts
RS Jr. Quarterback
#15 6-2, 200
Charlotte, NC

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transferred. Stoudt is one Boyd injury away from being the man.

*RUNNING BACK ROD MCDOWELL – McDowell is up to 198 pounds, and he insists that he is ready to take over the carries of former starter Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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. The coaches have hinted that 2013 could be more of a running back-by-committee approach, but McDowell is the clear number one heading into the fall. Backups D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
RS Jr. Running Back
#22 5-11, 195
Lincoln, AL

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and Zac BrooksZac Brooks
So. Running Back
#24 6-1, 185
Jonesboro, AR

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showed flashes during the spring, but McDowell’s consistency and experience win out.

*WIDE RECEIVER Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Jr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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– The player that Clemson fans and even some writers love to misspell and mispronounce the most (I’ve seen Martavius and Martavious and all kinds of variations) had the kind of spring that we’ve been waiting for. Bryant was left at home for the bowl game after skipping study hall, and Bryant told us the suspension was an eye-opener. He has an unbelievable blend of size and speed, and Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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told me earlier this spring that Bryant has as much – or more – talent as anyone else on the roster, and that includes Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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. He caught seven passes for 110 yards in the spring game and made several nice catches.
Swinney said that Bryant was barely hanging on heading into the spring.

“There’s no question that him having to sit at home, not get bowl gifts, not get bowl money, having to watch his team win without him- you would hope that that would get his attention,” Swinney said. “That’s why I did it. If I was just fully interested in beating LSU, I would’ve said, ‘Don’t worry about those study halls you keep missing. Come on, I need you big boy.’ We’re much more than that with this program. I’ve said it many times- I’d much rather lose doing it right and win doing it wrong.

“Sometimes you have to correct character and discipline. And then enough is enough and that’s where he was. He manned up and he’s come back and he’s done everything asked of him. He’s got zero money in the bank and he knows that. You can’t get any money out of an ATM if don’t have any in there. He’s got a few nickels in there, but he doesn’t have much. I’m proud of him and his teammates are proud of him.”

*OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS So. Tight End
#88 6-4, 260
Hope Mills, NC

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– The former tight end spent much of the spring trying to pick up the nuances of the playing the line. He played left tackle in the spring game, and did a nice job of containing another spring standout in Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Jr. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

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. Morris told me that Mac Lain can play either tackle or guard, but with his size and strength he might be a better fit at one of the tackle spots. The loss of Cooper had many wondering if Mac Lain might shift back to tight end, but I doubt it. He told me at the end of spring that he was 6-5, 295 and hoped to be closer to 300 once fall practice starts. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Morris use him on a few tackle-eligible plays.

Mac Lain was listed second on the depth chart at left tackle coming out of the spring - ahead of favorite Isaiah Battle - and the battle should continue into the fall according to Swinney.

“Eric had an excellent spring. He isn’t quite there, and he hasn’t really made the transition. But he can be special,” he said. “I think he will be able to play either tackle or either guard. I am really excited.

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