Sherrod Covil is just one of the Tigers' impressive freshmen.
Sherrod Covil is just one of the Tigers' impressive freshmen.

Spring Practice Insider: Freshmen are impressive, defensive backs standing out


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CLEMSON – Everybody wants to talk about how good Clemson’s defensive line is going to be next year, and they are overlooking Mike Reed and Mickey Conn’s defensive backs.

Day four of Clemson’s media spring practice viewing is in the books, and there is a lot of info to pass along, including about those defensive backs. The Tigers lost two starters at corner in Mario Goodrich and Andrew Booth and safety Nolan Turner, but there is plenty of talent to take their place.

*A note to pass along about wide receiver/outfielder Will Taylor. Head baseball coach Monte Lee told us a few weeks ago that Taylor (torn ACL) would start working out at some point in early March but didn’t know about a date when he could start to play. Of course, Taylor is watching drills in football this spring and won’t participate in spring practice, so he’s splitting time between both sports. I’ve heard that perhaps he could start playing baseball around May 1.

*Myles Murphy is as physically impressive as any defensive end Clemson has had in the last decade. He’s listed at 6-5, 275.

*Ricky Sapp, who now works with the strength and conditioning staff, looks like he never left. He fits in with the players so well, and he looks like he’s having a great time.

*When we walked in there was a reel playing on the scoreboards that showed celebration videos from past ACC Championship Games and bowl games. That was quickly followed by the top plays from last year.

*Freshman defensive back Jeadyn Lukus was in a green jersey, and head coach Dabo Swinney spent a few minutes in deep conversation with Lukus at the start of the session.

*Left tackle Jordan McFadden was also in yellow, as was tight end Jake Briningstool.

*Kicker BT Potter is one of the old players on the roster, and he’s still hitting long field goals with ease.

*One wide receiver that grabbed our attention was walk-on Zach Jackson. He’s listed at 6-3, 200 pounds but looks a little thicker. He is out of Acworth (GA) Allatoona and chose to walk-on at Clemson over scholarship offers from Army, Bryant, Morehead State, Stetson and The Citadel. He’s not the fastest guy in the room, but he’s got great size.

*Freshman wide receiver Adam Randall has the physical tools to play right away. He can be a jump ball specialist much like Clemson used Mike Williams.

*Working at punt return were Hamp Greene, Kevin McNeal (two walk-ons) and Beaux Collins. Don’t read a lot into that – Will Shipley will be the man when the season starts. I really like Collins. He fields the ball well and has an explosive first step.

*New tight ends coach Kyle Richardson has had his group working on catching tennis balls. There is a machine set up on the sidelines and the players sit in a chair about ten feet away. The machine shoots the tennis balls – which are brown with white stripes like footballs – at high speed.

*There's going to be a legitimate battle at punter. It's hard to tell a whole lot because they are punting sideline to sideline but all three look like they can be very good. High, towering punts with good hang time. Aidan Swanson and Jack Smith figure to be the main two (both are on scholarship), but Potter is also punting.

*The defensive line group was moving well in drills. Tyler Davis and Xavier Thomas look like pros.

*Trent Howard and Ryan Linthicum were working at center during running back drills.

*New defensive tackles coach Nick Eason kept repeating, “Let's go be great today.” That was Eason’s mantra working with the tackles on drills on get-off off the snap. He said it a bunch. He is very specific on how he wants drills done and will have the player go back and do it until it's right.

*If they can stay healthy, this cornerbacks group looks like they can be really good. They've all got good size, are very fluid in their movements and want to play the position the right way. They've taken on the personality of Mike Reed and do every drill until it's right.

Sherrod Covil, much like the other freshmen defensive backs, came in physically ready. His backpedal is smooth and he has an explosive step to the ball.

*Will Shipley was working with running backs coach CJ Spiller on drills, trying to punch the ball out of the hands of the backs. Shipley won’t play this spring.

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