Practice Observations: More injury news, linebacker standing out

by - Senior Writer -
Bentley works out at Monday's practice.
Bentley works out at Monday's practice.

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers were back at practice Monday afternoon and once again selected members of the media were allowed to watch the early portions.

We have a few news and notes to pass along:

*Quarterback Taisun Phommachanh is still not at practice (protocol), leaving just Hunter Helms and DJ Uiagalelei as the lone quarterbacks. Punter Will Spiers, like last Friday, was running third-team quarterback.

*Offensive lineman Jordan McFadden is no longer in yellow. Offensive lineman Bryn Tucker is in yellow, as is Hunter Rayburn and Matt Bockhorst. Out of the tight ends, Braden Galloway is in a yellow jersey.

*Wide receiver Brannon Spector is still in yellow, as is Frank Ladson.

*Wide receiver EJ Williams is another one that caught our attention. He looks a little bigger than he did at the end of last season, and it was obvious Monday he was moving with ease. We’ve heard that he has the same tools as Justyn Ross, his former high school teammate, and he got off the ground for one leaping catch that had the “wow” factor. It’s easy to believe that one of the reasons Ross is being moved to the slot is so Williams can start on the outside, along with either Frank Ladson or Joseph Ngata.

*Defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro had his arm taped up and is not practicing. Defensive end KJ Henry (out this spring) was on an exercise bike.

*Linebacker Jake Venables was not wearing a yellow jersey today, so he is full go at practice after breaking his arm late last season at Virginia Tech.

*Freshman running back Will Shipley spent extended time with both head coach Dabo Swinney and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham Friday, but it was running backs coach CJ Spiller who had Shipley’s attention Monday. Shipley is jacked and looks ready to play, but as I said last week, it surprised me how thick he is in his lower body. He looks like he can contribute right away.

*Former wide receiver Diondre Overton was at practice and spent time in conversation with Swinney. Overton is back in Clemson to participate in Pro Day, which will be held Thursday.

*Defensive tackle DeMonte Capehart was in a green jersey, which means he can work but not participate in contact drills.

*Swinney told us the other day that linebacker LaVonta Bentley was having an outstanding spring, and we loved what we saw Monday. He looks fast and, dare we say, lethal? We saw last season that he hits with authority, and he did nothing Monday to dissuade us of this notion. He can pack a punch.

*Cornerbacks coach Mike Reed was intense during the few minutes we watched. With no Derion Kendrick and with criticism from last season, this group is under the microscope. Reed was letting it fly Monday, and he had everyone’s attention.

*If you go by rotations early in camp, the starting defensive line was Justin Mascoll and Myles Murphy at defensive end, with Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee at defensive tackle. The second team showed Xavier Thomas and Greg Williams at defensive end, with Darnell Jefferies and freshman Payton Page at defensive tackle.

*Uiagalelei has an incredible arm, but he also has a lot of touch on his intermediate passes. He was leading the receivers on all of the crossing routes and throwing catchable balls. Until the very end of one drill, when a walk-on wide receiver tried to run an out route and he didn’t even get his head turned around in time. He was lucky the ball didn’t take his head off, and I put that one squarely on the receiver.

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