Job Openings: Spring practice will be fun to watch


by - Senior Writer -
Taisun Phommachanh enters the spring looking to back up Trevor Lawrence.
Taisun Phommachanh enters the spring looking to back up Trevor Lawrence.

It’s never too early to talk spring football.

Friday is the start of a busy weekend at Clemson, with 18 athletic events scattered across six venues. That includes four games in softball and three in baseball and a big basketball game against No. 5 Louisville. If you’re a sporting person, bring some money and enjoy one of the biggest weekends of the year.

However, spring football practice starts in less than two weeks and there are jobs to be won. With the addition of the mid-year enrollees and the losses at key spots on both sides of the ball, this spring is one of the more intriguing on record.

Spring practice starts on February 26th and ends with the spring game on April 4th. There are 15 practice sessions. Only 12 of those 15 practices can have contact and only eight will be full-contact.

Here is a quick look at what we will be watching:

Quarterback

Trevor Lawrence is the unquestioned starter, but it will be fun to see if Taisun Phommachanh can take that next step. He is projected as the backup to Lawrence now that Chase Brice is headed to Duke. Of course, 5-star recruit D.J. Uiagalelei is waiting in the wings and will do everything in his power to show he’s ready to play. As good as Lawrence is – and he’s plenty good - he still has room to grow, so don’t think the coaches will make the spring all about the battle for number two. But it will be fun to watch.

Running back

This room is about to get crowded. Demarkcus Bowman and Kobe Pryor will be here this summer, so now is the time for Lyn-J Dixon and Chez Mellusi and Mikey Dukes to impress the coaches. We will know a lot more about this group after the spring, and we might know more about who will be here in the fall.

Wide receivers

Amari Rodgers and Justyn Ross are penciled in as two starters, while senior Cornell Powell is back to fight for a starting spot. Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson will have plenty to say about that, while Brannon Spector looks to build off his redshirt freshman season. Will Brown also earned a scholarship recently and will vie for playing time.

Tight end

Braden Galloway put an exclamation mark on his return with a big reception in the title game. JC Chalk and Luke Price are back, while Davis Allen has the all-around game to push for playing time. Freshman Sage Ennis is on campus. There is depth and talent at the position, but Galloway has to be the front runner.

Offensive line

Jackson Carman has left tackle sown up, but he will be joined by four new starters. An early guess has Matt Bockhorst, Cade Stewart, Will Putnam and Jordan McFadden with the early leads to be starters, but Kaleb Boateng and Hunter Rayburn redshirted and newcomers Paul Tchio and Bryn Tucker and Mitchell Mayes are already on campus. A lot of people are going to get a lot of reps this spring.

Defensive line

This group is about to get a lot better. From everything I’ve heard, we are about to see a more focused Xavier Thomas (more on that later) this spring. K.J. Henry has another year under his belt, Justin Foster has another year and you add in Justin Mascoll and Greg Williams and freshman Myles Murphy and it’s a group at defensive end that is poised to break out.

At defensive tackle, Nyles Pinckney and Tyler Davis and Jordan Williams are the top three returning guys, but Darnell Jefferies has gained weight thanks to his diabetes diagnosis and treatment plan, Ruke Orhorhoro and Etinosa Reuben are a year older, and Tayquon Johnson is a solid 325 pounds after a redshirt year.

As for Bryan Bresee, he can play tackle or he can play end. Probably even linebacker. Definitely running back. He's gonna be fun to watch.

Linebacker

James Skalski is the only player that has a job that is secure. Brent Venables is going to have a blast this spring coaching up all of the younger players on the roster, including 5-star recruit Trenton Simpson. My early guess is that Mike Jones and Jake Venables have the early edge in the two open spots, but those spots are truly up for grabs.

Secondary

Derion Kendrick returns at one corner spot and Nolan Turner returns at one safety spot. Everything else is up for grabs. Mario Goodrich (CB) and Lannden Zanders (S) are two guys that I think have the inside track, but like a lot of other spots on this team, there is talent up and down the depth chart.

*We will have an in-depth look at each position group as we get closer to spring practice.

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