CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Clemson’s center competition is heating up in spring practice
Ryan Linthicum is a former No. 1-rated center who looks to take hold of the job.

Clemson’s center competition is heating up in spring practice


by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON — The Tigers have a new offensive line coach in Matt Luke this spring, and while the group is certainly not lacking size, it does lack a definitive starting five, especially with the current battle for center. Head coach Dabo Swinney says the competition is on, however.

Three scholarship linemen are in the mix with rising redshirt junior Ryan Linthicum, sophomore Harris Sewell and redshirt senior Trent Howard.

“It’s been good. We got three guys that are really getting all the snaps right now. Really four, Chap Pendergrass is getting some snaps in there as well. So, solid,” Swinney said. “All three of those guys are battling. A long way to go. Now that we’re getting into some live type of stuff, it starts getting easier to evaluate.”

Luke has been in coaching since 1999. His coaching career includes time with Ole Miss, his alma mater, as their offensive line coach as well as serving as the head coach there from 2017 to 2019. In addition, he also spent time with the Georgia Bulldogs, helping them to win two National Championships. All in all, he brings a lot of experience and should certainly help the offensive line group as a whole improve.

Health is essential for any position group and the offensive linemen are finally getting redshirt freshman Ian Reed back. Reed is 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds and came out of high school as the nation’s No. 14 offensive tackle, according to Rivals. He only got 11 snaps in last season as a redshirt because of his situation and the difficult fall he had overall.

“He’s back out there. He had a tough fall. He missed weeks and weeks and weeks with his situation. It’s something he’s dealt with from, his whole life really, from his childhood on, kind of an immunity type of thing. But, he’s actually doing really good. I’ll tell you what, that sucker’s tough. He’s competitive. He don’t back down. I’d say he’s a guy that’s caught Matt’s eye early just from his toughness,” Swinney said. “He’s doing a lot better, seems like they’ve gotten everything in a good spot, regulated and stuff. But, football’s very important to that kid. That’s one thing I can say about him. He’s big, he can move, but he cares. He really does care.”

The Tigers are looking to build depth on the offensive line, and as such, they are giving walk-on redshirt sophomore Dominic Cardone a chance. Cardone has tried out a few times prior to this spring, but this is the first time he will be given a roster opportunity. The Greer native is the biggest player on the team at 6-foot-9, 380 pounds. He has experience from high school playing at 4A Riverside High School as a guard where, at the time, he was 340 pounds. During his senior year of high school, he also scored a one-yard touchdown.

Clemson bios for center competitors

Ryan Linthicum

Enters 2024 having played 103 offensive snaps over nine career games.

2023: Played 59 offensive snaps over four games … played 22 snaps as Clemson amassed 679 yards of offense and 37 first downs vs. Charleston Southern … played 15 snaps in Clemson’s sack-free win vs. Florida Atlantic … played three snaps vs. No. 12 Notre Dame … played 19 snaps as Clemson reached 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards vs. Georgia Tech.

2022: Played 37 offensive snaps over three games … made season debut vs. Louisiana Tech, playing 14 snaps … played seven snaps vs. Miami (Fla.) … played 16 snaps vs. No. 24 North Carolina.

2021: Appeared in two games while redshirting, playing seven total snaps … played three snaps in college debut vs. SC State … played four snaps vs. UConn.

Before Clemson: Ranked as the No. 120 overall player in the nation by Rivals.com, which listed him as the best center in the nation and the fifth-best player from Maryland … 247Sports ranked him as the eighth-best center in the nation and 21st-best player from Maryland … ESPN.com ranked him among its top 300 prospects nationally as well as the fourth-best center in the nation and 14th-best player from Maryland … PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team selection and four-star recruit who ranked as the nation’s No. 2 center and the No. 4 player in Maryland … invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Game … did not have a 2020 high school season due to COVID-19 pandemic … committed to Clemson on Sept. 23, 2019 … recruited by Robbie Caldwell and Mike Reed … played football, basketball and lacrosse in high school … played for Josh Klotz at Damascus High School … became Clemson’s second signee from Damascus in a two-year span, joining 2020 signee Bryan Bresee.

Personal: Criminal justice major … enrolled at Clemson in January 2021 … born Sept. 7, 2002.

Harris Sewell

Entered Clemson as a national top-100 recruit who was a four-year starter at Odessa Permian of “Friday Night Lights” fame … enters 2024 having played 460 offensive snaps over 10 games (five starts).

2023: Grew from a key reserve into a starter by the final month of his freshman season … enters bowl season having played 460 offensive snaps over 10 games (five starts) … played 22 snaps in collegiate debut vs. Charleston Southern … played 25 snaps in Clemson’s sack-free win vs. Florida Atlantic … played nine snaps in a win at Syracuse … played 62 snaps as Clemson rushed for 207 yards vs. Wake Forest … played 17 snaps in Cade Klubnik’s 314-yard passing performance at Miami (Fla.) … played 72 snaps in his first career start, helping propel to Phil Mafah to a career-best 186-yard rushing performance vs. No. 12 Notre Dame … played 44 snaps as Clemson reached 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards vs. Georgia Tech … played 71 snaps as Clemson produced 466 yards and no sacks vs. No. 20 North Carolina … played 59 snaps and helped power Clemson to 219 rushing yards at South Carolina … played 79 snaps in Clemson’s fourth-quarter comeback victory Kentucky in the Gator Bowl.

Before Clemson: Helped Permian to a 9-2 record in 2022, bringing Permian’s four-year record to 32-14 in his career … four-time All-District selection, earning second-team honors as a freshman and first-team accolades in each of his final three years … four-year starter on the offensive line … became first freshman to start along the offensive line for Permian in at least 11 years … honorable mention all-state selection in Texas as a junior with all-state honors still to be announced for 2022 … second-team Academic All-State as a junior … All-Permian Basin first-team honoree as a senior … played right tackle, right guard and center during his senior year … rated as the No. 1 center in Texas entering the 2022 season according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football … joined Ian Reed as one of two as offensive linemen from Texas in Clemson’s 2023 class … also played baseball his freshman year and was a weight athlete on the track team his final three years … played for coach Jeff Ellison … invited to the All-America Classic in Orlando … rated among the top five at his position nationally in his recruiting class … ranked No. 85 overall by ESPN.com, which rated him as the fourth-best offensive guard in the nation … ranked 87th overall in the nation as a four-star prospect per PrepStar … rated No. 108 overall by Rivals and No. 177 overall by 247Sports … ranked No. 188 in the nation overall by On3.

Personal: Committed to Clemson on June 29, 2022 … born Feb. 16, 2005 … enrolled at Clemson in January 2023 … pre-business major … name pronounced “SOO-ull.”

Trent Howard

Versatile offensive lineman who grew into a primary contributor in 2023 … enters 2024 having played 382 offensive snaps over 23 career games (three starts).

2023: Played 257 offensive snaps over 10 games (three starts) … played 24 snaps as Clemson amassed 679 yards of offense and 37 first downs vs. Charleston Southern … played 20 snaps in Clemson’s sack-free win vs. Florida Atlantic … played 28 snaps in a win at Syracuse … played nine snaps at both Miami (Fla.) and NC State … played 72 snaps in his first career start, helping propel to Phil Mafah to a career-best 186-yard rushing performance vs. No. 12 Notre Dame … played 39 snaps as Clemson reached 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards vs. Georgia Tech … played 26 snaps as Clemson produced 466 yards and no sacks vs. No. 20 North Carolina … played 25 snaps and helped power Clemson to 219 rushing yards at South Carolina … played five snaps in the Gator Bowl vs. Kentucky.

2022: Played 51 offensive snaps over six games … played 10 snaps each at Georgia Tech and vs. Furman … played six snaps vs. Louisiana Tech … played eight snaps vs. Louisville … played seven snaps vs. Miami (Fla.) … played 10 snaps vs. No. 24 North Carolina.

2021: Played 53 snaps over three games … played 26 snaps vs. SC State as Clemson exceeded both 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards … played three snaps at No. 23 Pitt … played 24 snaps vs. UConn.

2020: Played 21 snaps over four games … played three snaps in collegiate debut at Wake Forest … played four snaps in Clemson’s shutout win vs. The Citadel … played 11 snaps at Georgia Tech … played three snaps vs. Pitt.

Before Clemson: Played the 2019 season for Matthew Forester at Briarwood Christian High School in Birmingham … played his first three years for Fred Yancey, the veteran coach who retired after 2018 season … three-year starter who helped Briarwood Christian to a 45-10 record over his four years … earned Alabama 5A Lineman of the Year honors and Super All-State honors as a senior captain in 2019 … two-time selection for the All-County, All-South Metro, All-Birmingham and All-State teams … helped his squad to an 11-4 record in 2019, a 9-3 mark his junior year, a 13-1 record his sophomore year and a 12-2 mark in his freshman season … reached quarterfinals of the state tournament his freshman year and reached the finals in 2017 … played all five positions on the line and also had experience as long snapper … was a PrepStar All-Regional selection … selected to the Alabama-Mississippi All Star Classic, for which he served as a captain for Team Alabama and won an Academic Achievement Award for the squad … 4.0 student who was a National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society) member … originally committed to Georgia Tech before committing to Clemson on Dec. 6, 2019 … recruited to Clemson by Robbie Caldwell and Todd Bates.

Personal: Born April 28, 2001 … earned degree in financial management in December 2023 … completed microinternships with Credit Suisse in New York in spring 2022 and First Rate in London in spring 2023 … enrolled at Clemson in the summer of 2020 … his father, Johnny, played with Dabo Swinney at Alabama and was a member of the 1992 Alabama National Championship team … attended Dabo Swinney Football Camp six years during his youth … two-time ACC Honor Roll selection (2020-21).

Chapman Pendergrass

Joined Clemson as a walk-on in the summer of 2022 … enters 2024 having played nine career games including 12 offensive snaps.

2023: Played 12 offensive snaps plus action on special teams over nine games … played eight snaps in collegiate debut vs. Charleston Southern … settled into key roles in protection on special teams midseason … played four offensive snaps vs. Georgia Tech … shared special teams player of the game honors for his role on the punt shield vs. No. 20 North Carolina.

2022: Redshirted … ACC Honor Roll selection.

Before Clemson: Lettered at T.L. Hanna High School.

Personal: Born Aug. 1, 2003 … construction science and management major.

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