Avoiding the Redshirt-Offense

by - Radio Host -

Avoiding the Redshirt-Offense

Clemson has a situational scrimmage this morning, and one of the major storylines will be this amazing freshmen class.

It is no secret that college football coaches are relying on freshmen more and more each year, but this is a big surprise here at Clemson because of the returning talent already on campus. It's one thing for Iowa State to depend on freshmen, it's another for the team ranked second in the country to look at so many first-year players.

There are a couple of lessons to be learned. First is the quicker turnover in college football. The number of early entries in the NFL draft continues to grow. Today if you attempt to red-shirt a player with NFL potential, you may be throwing away a year. Clemson did not have the choice when Mackensie Alexander as a true freshman due to his injury. However, the fact is that Alexander only played two seasons at Clemson.

The other lesson is that players are coming into college more equipped to play earlier. Clemson recruited another top ten class this past February and these guys are ready to compete, even against high-level guys already on campus.

The staff has not made decisions about avoiding red-shirts yet, but it is pretty clear this class is going to contribute key snaps at key positions.

I can see as many as 10-12 freshmen playing this season, but that number could grow in the next few weeks. Today, I wanted to look at some of the players on offense that could avoid a red-shirt season.

My guess is they would love to red-shirt Zerrick Cooper at quarterback, but if pressed into duty, I think Cooper could win games this season.

One of the stars of the first week of practice has been Tavien Feaster. He came into camp at 207 pounds and has answered questions about his shoulder following surgery this spring. As we have mentioned several times, Feaster gives the offense a skill set that is different than the other backs on campus. No back has this kind of top end speed.

The Tigers are loaded at wide receiver, and it will be hard for anyone to break into the rotation, but Cornell Powell has turned heads in camp. He is physically ready to grab a spot on the two-deep. Diondre Overton's starting point is much higher than I expected. My thoughts were he is a high ceiling guy but was very raw. He is a much better natural receiver of the ball than I would have thought and his upside remains extremely high. I think a red-shirt season could be the best thing to happen to Overton. I think it is fairly easy to see T.J. Chase needs a red-shirt season to get bigger and stronger.

At tight end, J.C. Chalk has missed time with an injury, but it would have been hard to crack the lineup with a deep group at tight end.

We are seeing offensive linemen play earlier. Last season Mirch Hyatt and Jake Fruhmorgen played as true freshmen. This year as many as three true freshmen could play. In the spring we saw Tremayne Anchrum and Sean Pollard impressed with their level of play. Robbie Caldwell said he would be comfortable playing either freshman early this season. However, the storyline of the camp may be John Simpson. The Ft. Dorchester true freshman might be the best-looking athlete on the offensive line, and he has shown great tools when the players put on the pads. Simpson has great feet and has grasps things quickly.

There are veterans that will fight off these freshmen on offense as camp progresses, but so far this class looks like another special group.

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