Swinney says the quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is very competitive
Swinney says the quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is very competitive

Scrimmage Insider: Swinney says this team is "made of the right stuff"

by - Senior Writer -

The Clemson football team held its first full scrimmage of the spring Wednesday in Death Valley, and head coach Dabo Swinney says his team is made of the right stuff.

The Tigers practiced for two hours in front of NFL scouts and a few spectators, and it's obvious that Swinney loves what he's seen out of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and freshmen running backs Phil Mafah and Will Shipley.

Here are the notes from Swinney's press conference following the scrimmage:

*Today was the first full scrimmage and Swinney called it a "fun day" and said it was a really very competitive on both sides and finished up with short-yardage and goalline. Other than that just played ball in the open field, including special teams.

*Swinney really likes where his team is right now. They have learned to practice the right way and the effort and intensity are where they need to be. Now the team will have some time off with Pro Day Thursday and also have the rest of the weekend off.

* Mitchell Mayes and John Williams have gotten a ton of reps because Walker Parks and Jordan McFadden have missed time.

*Some of the secondary guys, like Nate Wiggins, have stepped forward. Wiggins needs to get in the weight room but had an interception today.

*Ajou Ajou is one of the most improved. The light has really come on for Ajou and Swinney is really encouraged by what he’s seen. Swinney also thought Hunter Helms has made some progress and had a great day today. He was able to move around and make some plays.

*Jeremiah Trotter at linebacker is also making plays and Swinney says “he’s as good a linebacker you can see coming out of high school.” Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee are at another level, while Demonte Capehart caught his eye.

*Swinney says freshmen running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah are naturals. He is really excited about both of those guys and are way ahead of the curve, just like Beaux Collins and Dacari Collins at wide receiver. He says they all, “have the right stuff.”

*All the corners are available except for Malcolm Greene. He was available first half of the spring but they wanted to go ahead and get him in surgery and get him ahead of schedule. They have worked Mario Goodrich at the nickel, but all of the other guys are out there. Swinney is excited about Fred Davis and Andrew Booth, and Sheridan Jones is playing physical and is “on a mission.” Swinney then mentions Wiggins again, saying he has to learn the details but, “he is a natural guy and has a lot to work with. He is very gifted with this range and has excellent ball skills.”

*Linebacker LaVonta Bentley has had a good spring. Jakes Venables was back full-speed today for the first time. Swinney then says they have a lot of young linebackers who will be good. Mentions Trotter again.

*Swinney says quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is very self-aware and very competitive. He is going to get better and better and better. Swinney knows he will put the work in during practice and is always thinking about how he can be the best QB at Clemson.

*At running back, Lyn-J Dixon has a “fire under his rear” and is highly-motivated. CJ Spiller is doing an awesome job and is managing those guys. Chez Mellusi had a great day today, and Mikey Dukes was back today. Kobe Pace has been “outstanding” and Darien Rencher simply does his job and makes plays. The two freshmen – Mafah and Shipley – are special. Swinney says that competition will go awhile and make everyone better.

*In the trenches, Swinney was pleased with what he saw. They lined up different position groups at the end of the scrimmage and let them go at it (like OL vs DL) and he said they are letting them compete. He thinks by the time September gets here they will have 10 or 11 offensive lineman that can go play winning football.

*Defensive end Xavier Thomas has been consistent. Swinney said he is excited for Thomas to finish up strong and have a great offseason.

*Swinney says the punter Will Spiers has never been better and is “absolutely launching the football.” He says kicker BT Potter has also been very good.

*Swinney also says this team is “made of the right stuff” and he loves the makeup and mixture of this team. This is also the most veteran team he has had since 2018 team. They have a lot of young talent – two good recruiting classes in a row – that have them set up for a great present and a great future.

*At the safety spot, Nolan Turner is not doing any live work and Lannden Zanders is out, so it’s been great for RJ Mickens and Joseph Charleston and Ray Thornton. Tyler Venables is practicing at the Nickel/SAM and playing the dime spot. He also loves what he sees out of freshman Andrew Mukuba. He says this is a group that will have a lot of talent.

*Kevin Swint is cross-training at defensive end because Cade Denhoff has missed a few days and KJ Henry is out. Swinney said Swint is a complete player and can play at either spot. He is like a great safety that can play safety or nickel, a lot like Trenton Simpson. Gives them a lot of flexibility.

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