Spring Practice Observations: Clemson's football team looks the part
Peter Woods works out with the punt team early in practice (Photo by Merrell Mann).

Spring Practice Observations: Clemson's football team looks the part

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – This football team looks the part.

Clemson held the second spring practice on Friday afternoon inside the Poe Indoor Facility due to heavy rain in the area. While we would all rather be outside, there are times when staying inside pays dividends. Today, that meant being able to cover more ground and look at all of the position groups.

I will start by pulling this out of my memories – all the way back in 2008, I walked onto the field in the Georgia Dome and took a look at the two teams – the Tigers and Alabama. They didn’t look the same, not physically, and that was borne out on the field that night and in the final score.

Over the next few seasons, I held several conversations with head coach Dabo Swinney, and the point was, “People had better get us now, because they won’t get us in the future.” Fast forward a few years, and one day, the Tigers were walking off the practice field, and I thought to myself, “Now they look the part.”

This team is beginning to look the part again. This might be the biggest offensive line since 2019, and if someone like Dietrick Pennington were to breach the starting lineup, it would be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, I’ve seen at Clemson. And these aren’t fat guys – they all look tall and just big. When you look at the five that went out there first today, you have Tristan Leigh (6-6, 315), Marcus Tate (6-5, 325), Collin Sadler (6-6, 310), Ryan Linthicum (6-3, 305), and Blake Miller (6-6, 310). Pennington is 6-5, 340, Zack Owens is 6-6, 375, Ian Reed is 6-5, 325, and Harris Sewell is 6-4, 315.

While I was watching the line, I noticed a newcomer, a walk-on from nearby Riverside named Dominic Cardone. A bystander looked at Cardone and said, “That’s a house.” Cardone is a mere 6-9, 380.

I moved over to the tight ends, and again, you have an impressive, athletic-looking group. Jake Briningstool is 6-6, 230. Markus Dixon is 6-4, 245, Olsen Patt-Henry is 6-3, 240, Josh Sapp is 6-1, 235, and Banks Pope is 6-4, 240.

It’s that way at all the position groups (especially along the defensive line).

Speaking of the offensive line, Ian Reed drew praise from offensive line coach Matt Luke for his footwork during one drill. He missed most of last season, but it looks like he’s 100 percent. Center Ryan Linthicum just has a different look to him – I think it’s confidence. He knows he has a real shot at playing.

*Peter Woods was working on punt team – no not at returner – and he looks like he’s slimmed down for his try at defensive end. Still cat-quick and big.

*Quarterback Trent Pearman was dressed out but again not participating.

*Right guard Walker Parks, who Swinney says should be able to do some work late in the spring, was dressed out but wearing yellow. He went through some early work with some of the strength coaches and looked like he was moving well.

*Jack Smith was booming punts during the early period. Ceiling scrapers. He was, according to the coaches, lacking consistency, and the Tigers have a good one in Aidan Swanson. But competition makes everyone better, and Smith has looked good through the first two practices.

*During an early passing period, quarterback Christopher Vizzina delivered a dart to Henry down the sideline. Henry took the pass into the endzone and Swinney, on the mic, said, “That a boy CV! Great throw!” The pass was accurate and on time, and again, through two practices, he looks way better than he looked at any point last season.

*Freshman receiver Bryant Wesco was taking handoffs (on the jet sweep), and I can see that being a problem for defenses down the road. He takes the handoff and gets up the field in a hurry. A hurry.

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