Monday update: PAW drills highlight early part of practice

by - Senior Writer -
The Tigers will have just two more practices this week and then hold the spring game Saturday.
The Tigers will have just two more practices this week and then hold the spring game Saturday.

CLEMSON – Monday’s practice session started out with the PAW drill, and there were plenty of hits to go around.

The Tigers practiced Monday afternoon on the practice fields behind the indoor practice facility, and the early part of the session was dedicated to PAW drills as up-tempo music blared from the speakers. The Tigers will have just two more practices this week and then hold the spring game Saturday, so this week is a last chance for players to catch the eye of a coach.

We have lots of observations, so we’ll get started.

*Freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is hard to move. He went up against several offensive linemen and more than held his own, and one thing stands out to me: even when he stands with the other defensive tackles, a group of large men, he stands out as being bigger than life. It’s going to be fun watching him play in the spring game.

*Wayne Gallman loves the PAW drill, but I watched him run several times and he simply wasn’t touched. Gallman has taken it to another level this spring, and while we’ve known he can be a bruiser he showed some nifty moves and good speed Monday.

*Another back with a chippy attitude was Tyshon Dye – he pushed Christian Wilkins after one run and bowled over a linebacker on another run. Healthy, he could be a force this season. C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice were also impressive during the runs, and I saw running backs coach Tony Elliott actually smile about midway through the drill. If I was Tony, I’d smile, too.

*One of the highlights for me was when Tyrone Crowder went up against Wilkins – two big bodies moving in space. Crowder held his own and linebacker Jalen Williams cleaned up with the “tackle.”

*Freshman linebacker Shaq Smith is getting plenty of teaching from veteran Ben Boulware. Following one of the drills, Boulware grabbed Smith by the shoulders and immediately went into teaching mode. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was on his way over to talk to Smith, but he saw Boulware had things under control and went back to the drills.

*Freshman linebacker Tre Lamar is another physical specimen, but during a few of the drills it looked like he was playing with his pad level too high. It was corrected, and he flashed in for a physical hit on a runner.

*Every time we’ve watched practice, defensive end Richard Yeargin impresses and Monday was no exception. He fights off blocks and wraps up on tackles. We keep hearing good things and he’s another one that will be watched closely on Saturday.

*It’s too early to say that Clemson hit home runs – in honor of baseball’s Opening Day – with freshman linemen Tremayne Anchrum and Sean Pollard. But both players continue to get rave reviews, and one person told me that Pollard can’t watch enough film and even went back and watched film from last year’s spring game. Anchrum has long arms and a good punch, while Pollard’s footwork improves each time we watch.

*Former tight end Stanton Seckinger was on the field giving a little coaching help on Monday.

*Walk-on defensive ends Kaleb and Kelby Bevelle – whose father was a teammate of head coach Dabo Swinney’s at Alabama – were met by Swinney after the PAW drills. Swinney told both players that if they wanted to compete for playing time, they should move to the offensive line. Swinney told the story of another player he told that to – Tyler Shatley – and walked both of them over to the offensive line area.

*T.L. Hanna defensive end Zacch Pickens (2019) and Bo Nix, a 2019 quarterback out of Scottsboro (AL) were both on hand to watch practice. Pickens spent most of the time we were in the session watching Marion Hobby’s group. Another QB on hand was 2018’s Justin Fields out of Kennesaw (GA) Harrison.

*We have to head back out for post-practice interviews, so I have to cut this a little short, but I’ll leave you with this – this might be the best-looking team I’ve seen at Clemson. There seems to be depth and competition all over the field, and when I watch the PAW drills it’s obvious to see just how many good – really good – football players dot this roster. This next season will be another fun one.

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