CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Along the defensive line – that entire group stands out so far in practice.
Along the defensive line – that entire group stands out so far in practice.

Camp Insider: Depth and talent on display in the early days of fall camp


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – It’s 26 days until the opener against Georgia in Charlotte and the Tigers have two August practices under their belt with things ramping up this week. Yes, college football is here, and TigerNet has plenty of additional notes and thoughts to pass along before we head into day three.

I’ll start with the schedule for this week and next. The Tigers practice later this afternoon, and the media does get to attend the early portion (which usually means five periods). I think it’s great that head coach Dabo Swinney opened up two entire practices the media and I hope that we get to do it again at some point.

The team will practice each of the first three days this week at the regular practice fields. For those who want to know, I am pretty sure we get Swinney, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, and maybe a few others post practice. We are scheduled to talk to both coordinators (and a few players) Tuesday, and with Swinney again on Wednesday.

The fields at Jervey Meadows are already lined and ready for practice there Thursday and Friday. For those that don’t know, Swinney always moves a portion of fall camp to Jervey Meadows for what he calls a road trip. With both practice fields outside the Reeves Complex taking a beating with August downpours and late summer heat, it gives those fields a chance to recover while putting the players and coaches (slightly) out of their comfort zone.

There will be a stadium scrimmage Saturday. From then on, practices will (sort of) alternate between Jervey Meadows and the regular practice fields until the end of fall camp on August 19th. From there on, it’s game prep. And yes, that means the Tigers will start to focus in on Georgia in a mere 10 days.

Now, let’s get to what we’ve seen so far. A Tiger in Maine emailed me to ask how the offensive line looks, and I responded that they look great so far but it’s in shorts and the hitting hasn’t started. The hitting will start this week and we should know more, but I do like the fact that this group just LOOKS better all around than they have in a few years, You start sprinkling in some of the new guys like Tristan Leigh and Marcus Tate and Dietrick Pennington to the group from last year like Paul Tchio and Mitchell Mayes and Walker Parks and you have the start of something special.

As I’ve mentioned, the hitting hasn’t started but Tate stands out and I can envision him earning early playing time. Seeing Matt Bockhorst taking reps at center Saturday with Tate at left guard tells you the coaches are going to do whatever it takes to get the best five on the field.

Along the defensive line – that entire group stands out. We were watching the good-on-good sessions Saturday and of course Bresee and Myles Murphy and Xavier Thomas and Tyler Davis and KJ Henry and Justin Mascoll are impressing. But then you see Tre Williams and Payton Page and Greg Williams and Zaire Patterson and Cade Denhoff and Kevin Swint and others flashing, and you realize there is depth everywhere along the line. This unit will be special.

With the linebackers, freshmen Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter have shown flashes among the younger players, but Trenton Simpson is the one I watched. He’s going to be trouble for opposing offenses this season with his combination of size and speed. And then you have players like LaVonta Bentley, guys who have been in the program a few years, who have experience and talent and probably won’t start unless there is an injury.

At corner, we’ve seen Mario Goodrich and Andrew Booth run out with the first group and have won their share of battles against a really good group of wide receivers. And I will tell you what I like out of this group, not just those two – they fight and claw and scratch (just like Mike Reed told us they would) on every play. It’s a group that looks like it is just waiting to hear how people think they aren’t going to be very good.

Safety is another group where we're starting to see the depth - RJ Mickens and Andrew Mukuba have been getting right in the middle of the action - while also seeing Lannden Zanders looking like he's healthy. A lot of people criticized Zanders late last season, but the kid was playing with one shoulder and trying to tape it up before games and gutting his way through games. Now that he's healthy, he looks as good as he's looked since 2019.

We've touched on the running backs and wide receivers and tight ends and quarterbacks already in camp, and we will have more observations after practice today. Buckle up.

(Editor's note: All of the referenced Clemson football practices are closed to the general public.)

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