First Look: News and Nuggets from Dabo's golf outing

by - Senior Writer -
Dan Brooks breaks down the defensive tackles
Dan Brooks breaks down the defensive tackles

SUNSET – Members of the Clemson coaching staff met with the media prior to the start of Dabo Swinney Dabo Swinney
Head Coach
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’s annual media golf outing this morning at The Reserve, and there are plenty of players nuggets and tidbits to pass along.

We started off the morning with defensive tackles coach Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assoc. Head Coach / Def. Tackles
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, and he opened up about some of the younger players that will have to take up the slack left by the departures of Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Defensive Tackle (2011 - 2014)
#50 6-0, 290
Conyers, GA

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, Josh WatsonJosh Watson
Defensive Tackle (2010 - 2014)
#91 6-4, 290
Wilmington, DE

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and DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Defensive Tackle (2011 - 2014)
#99 6-1, 295
Central, SC

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*Brooks said that Albert HugginsAlbert Huggins
Fr. Defensive Line
#67 6-3, 280
Orangeburg, SC

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will start off fall camp at defensive tackle. Prior to his commitment, Huggins made the defensive staff promise he would get a look at defensive end but requested a move back to tackle during the spring. Brooks said Huggins may still provide snaps at end, but he believes Huggins’ has a higher upside at tackle. Brooks said Huggins is about the same weight he was in January – between 280-282 pounds – but has toned up.

*Speaking of upside, Brooks believes that freshman tackle Christian WilkinsChristian Wilkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
# 6-5, 305
Longmeadow, CT

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can play either tackle or end.

“He reminds of a guy I used to coach named Shaun Ellis,” Brooks said. “People always said he would grow into a 3-technique, but he wound up playing a 6-technique. Christian will start off inside, but his athletic ability is off the charts and I don’t have a doubt he could play end if we had a need or we asked him to.”

*Brooks also believes that Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 295
Mooresboro, NC

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is headed for a big year. Brooks said that after Watkins’ 2013 wreck, the coaching staff eased the North Carolina back into action and actually used the bowl practices as Watkins’ return to live contact.

Watkins continued to make strides last season, and Brooks said that Watkins will enter the fall as the No.2 tackle.

* Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-3, 295
Honolulu, HI

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is another player that Brooks expects to see make huge strides this season. Pagano’s family was based in Hawaii – his dad is in the Navy – but was transferred to Norfolk recently. As a result, Pagano’s mom and sisters have moved closer to Clemson and Brooks thinks that will make an impact.

“I know he helped them move and get settled around here, and I think it will be good for him,” Brooks said. “I know it will also be easier because he won’t be making that long flight. I know as a big man that is hard on your back and hips, and not having to make that long flight will also help him.”

*Ends coach Marion HobbyMarion Hobby
Co-DC / Defensive Ends
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said that defensive end Richard YearginRichard Yeargin
RS Fr. Defensive End
#49 6-4, 225
Lauderdale Lakes, FL

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has added 20 or more pounds since the spring game. Yeargin had surgery to remove his tonsils after the spring and Hobby said it’s allowing the Florida native to finally eat likes he needs to.

*Hobby also said that Martin AikenMartin Aiken
RS Jr. Defensive End
#53 6-2, 255
Smoaks, SC

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hasn’t added weight like the coaches thought he would and currently sits in the 230 pound range.

*Offensive line coach Robbie CaldwellRobbie Caldwell
Assistant Coach / Offensive Line
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said he isn’t worried about his position group. Caldwell said Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Line
#75 6-6, 270
Sugar Hill, GA

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will be fine at left tackle, and Jake FruhmorgenJake Fruhmorgen
Fr. Offensive Line
#63 6-5, 285
Tampa, FL

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can play either tackle spot to provide depth. Noah GreenNoah Green
Fr. Offensive Line
#71 6-5, 275
Boiling Springs, SC

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, Taylor HearnTaylor Hearn
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#51 6-4, 325
Williston, SC

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and Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#78 6-4, 305
Hope Mills, NC

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are capable of moving outside and playing tackle.

Another bonus for the offensive line is the return of center Jay GuillermoJay Guillermo
RS Jr. Center
#57 6-3, 310
Maryville, TN

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– Swinney said earlier that Guillermo is back and is more involved with the team than he has been in the past. He said Guillermo just seems happier and they expect big things this season.

Caldwell said that Guillermo will be grouped with Justin FalcinelliJustin Falcinelli
RS Fr. Offensive Tackle
#50 6-3, 305
Middleton, MD

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and Zach GiellaZach Giella
Fr. Offensive Line
#77 6-5, 275
Augusta, GA

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at center behind Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Sr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 285
Simpsonville, SC

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. Caldwell also said he isn’t opposed to playing Guillermo at guard.

*Defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Def. Coordinator / Linebackers
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was his usual exuberant self, and while he talked plenty about team chemistry and people needing to step up and be leaders, he also delved into thoughts on individual players.

I asked Venables the names of one or two players that would be household names by the end of the season, and he said safety T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 205
Sylacauga, AL

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and linebacker Kendall JosephKendall Joseph
RS Fr. Linebacker
#34 5-11, 225
Belton, SC

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Venables said Green is poised to take the next step as one of the premier safeties in the conference, and recounted a story from late June that shows Green’s growth.

“It was late June and it was after 5 p.m. and I had to run back to the office to get something,” Venables said. “I was walking out and here comes T.J., all by himself and doing it where nobody was there to notice. He had asked some other guys to come up and watch film with him, but they had other things to do so he was coming up to the football offices by himself to break down film. If you want to see how far he has come, go back and look at the Oklahoma film. That interception he made was something we had practiced, and he read it right.”

*Both Venables and secondary Mike ReedMike Reed
Assist. Coach / Defensive Backs
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raved about Mark FieldsMark Fields
Fr. Cornerback
# 5-10, 185
Cornelius, NC

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. Reed said Fields has the opportunity to play this season, but it all comes down to learning the playbook. Right now, Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
Jr. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 195
Beech Island, SC

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is the starter opposite Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS So. Cornerback
#2 5-10, 190
Immokalee, FL

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and will get most of the reps with the first team when camp starts.

* Danny PearmanDanny Pearman
Assist. Head / ST / TE
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has a lot of holes to fill on special teams, but he said all the group lacks is experience. He expects Alex SpenceAlex Spence
RS Fr. Kicker
#47 6-2, 190
Florence, SC

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to be ready, but said Daniel product Christian GroomesChristian Groomes
RS Fr. Punter / Kicker
#39 5-9, 190
Central, SC

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is also in the mix and that Groomes could also be the guy at kickoff. Punter Andy TeasdallAndy Teasdall
RS Jr. Punter
#95 5-11, 185
Winston-Salem, NC

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has also been working at kicker.

*I asked Pearman if freshman tight end Garrett WilliamsGarrett Williams
Fr. Tight End
# 6-4, 225
Orlando, FL

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was a lock to redshirt – Pearman already has choices with Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
Jr. Tight End
#16 6-5, 250
Navarre, FL

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, Stanton SeckingerStanton Seckinger
Gr. Tight End
#81 6-5, 240
Isle of Palms, SC

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, Milan RichardMilan Richard
RS Fr. Tight End
#80 6-2, 245
Savannah, GA

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, Jay Jay McCulloughJay Jay McCullough
RS Jr. Tight End
#89 6-3, 248
Fort Mill, SC

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and Cannon SmithCannon Smith
RS Fr. Tight End
#84 6-4, 240
Columbia, SC

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– and Pearman’s eyes lit up. He said Williams is a rare talent, and that if he sees early on that Williams can contribute the freshman will play.

I asked Pearman to break down the group, and he said Leggett was the best receiver, Seckinger was the most knowledgeable and Cannon Smith was the best blocker.

Tony Elliott likes the prospects of the freshmen

* Tony ElliottTony Elliott
Co-OC / Running Backs
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said that running back Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
So. Running Back
#26 5-9, 215
Thomasville, GA

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might play this season. Choice tore his ACL against Boston College last October, and with depth at the position many have wondered if Choice might be a candidate to redshirt.

“We’re going to look at it from both angles – what’s best for him and what’s best for the program – but it’s really too early to tell,” Elliott said. “We haven’t had a chance to work with him, because they limit our time. Every indication is that he’s healthy and full go. We’re just going to see where he’s at and go from there.”

*Elliott also said Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 215
Elberton, GA

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looks ready to go.

“If you just look at him physically, you're starting to see his body look how it looked in high school.

*Elliott also had a lot to say about freshmen Ray-Ray McCloudRay-Ray McCloud
Fr. Wide Receiver
# 5-9, 175
Land O' Lakes, FL

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and Deon CainDeon Cain
Fr. Wide Receiver
# 6-1, 190
Tampa, FL

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“Toys that you can't play with. It's kind of like you know you have some Christmas presents but you can't touch them yet,” he said. “It's been nothing but rave reviews on those guys. They're both competitive. They're the kind of guys that will put in extra work on their own - just them two at night in the indoor by themselves. They're different but they're going to bring something explosive to our offense. They have to learn - they have to learn the system. For them, everything has been kind of fast because they've been thrown in with the varsity guys that have been in the system and none of the coaches are out there to slow it down, so they're still learning.

"I'm excited to see them once we get into fall camp and we turn them loose after they get an understanding of what we're trying to do. I saw Ray-Ray in passing and it looks like he's put on a few pound already. He's looking good and then Deon, he's pretty when he walks by you. We'll start Deon at the position that Mike WilliamsMike Williams
Jr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-4, 210
Vance, SC

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plays because he's got that body type to play into the boundary. With Ray-Ray, he's very dynamic and can do a lot of things, but we will start him where Artavis plays and as he becomes comfortable with that then you can expand his role because he has a running back skill set, which was his primary position at his high school. You'll have his options with him.”

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