Spring Practice Insider: More on the QBs, and what makes Clemson a special place


by - Senior Writer -
Myles Murphy already looks the part.
Myles Murphy already looks the part.

CLEMSON – The mid-year enrollees were on full display Thursday afternoon in the Poe Indoor facility, and we have even more team-related news and nuggets to pass along.

TigerNet had five staff members on hand at the practice so we could cover as much as possible in the time allotted, and there was too much to pass along in the story yesterday afternoon.

I’ll start with head coach Dabo Swinney, who told us that this is a good-looking team and he’s thrilled that most of the team is already on campus. In other words, the majority of the players that will play a big role this season will be on campus this spring.

That includes freshman quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who we wrote about yesterday and today. However, while watching the quarterbacks go through drills it was Taisun Phommachanh who stood out in a good way. Wearing his new No, 7 jersey, Phommachanh showed off his new physique, and I can say that he looks like a taller (and more muscular) Tajh Boyd.

During a practice last season, former Florida State quarterback (and current ACC Network analyst) EJ Manuel told me that Phommachanh reminds him of two Clemson quarterbacks – Boyd and Kelly Bryant. Manuel said Phommachanh has Boyd’s passing ability and Bryant’s running ability.

I ran that comparison by Swinney after practice last night and he agreed, and said, “He got the best of both those guys.”

Everybody will be following Uiagalelei this spring and fall, but Phommachanh looked like a veteran during drills and he looks like a player who is out to win a job. This kid is talented.

*Another freshman I glossed over in yesterday’s article (but Nikki watched) was defensive end Myles Murphy. I wrote a few weeks ago that Clemson’s Power Rangers walked into the locker room after the loss to LSU, and the difference in their sizes and what we saw last season was wide. Murphy and Bryan Bresee (and the guys coming in) are going to make sure this year’s line looks like it has in the past.

Murphy is explosive but he makes it look easy. At one point he stood beside Justin Mascoll, and it’s not hard to envision those two as bookend starters at some point. Murphy actually compares more favorably to Bresee (6-5, 295) than he does to last year’s starters. He is thick but he can move.

As for Bresee, even though he was limited (yellow jersey) he did spend time with special teams. Swinney told us that Bresee sprained his LCL playing basketball, but he moved with any problems during the drills. Bresee was one of the protectors on punt team, and it’s easy to see a direct snap coming his way on 4th-and-short at some point in the future.

*There is a new voice with the wide receivers this spring in the person of Tyler Grisham. I wanted to see how Grisham handled his first real practice as “the guy” but it didn’t take long for a familiar voice to be heard – Swinney. The former wide receivers coach was a constant presence during the early part of practice. However, don’t think that he is looking over Grisham’s shoulder – Swinney has always gravitated to the wide receivers in early practices, even after Scott spent a decade at the position. Once a wide receivers coach, always a wide receivers coach.

*The best part of any practice for me is getting a hug from team manager David Saville. I know this isn’t sports-related per se, but I wanted to pass this along. Saville, of course, has been a part of the ClemsonLIFE program and been around the football program for years. People remember the video ESPN made about his time, but that video doesn’t show a lot of the behind the scenes stuff.

Long after practice was over and the players and coaches were gone – they were showered and likely eating at this point – I was in a corner of the facility trying to upload videos. Here comes David Saville, carrying three oversized bags of equipment up the ramp and into the equipment area. This is every practice. The Joey Batson video that plays before the fourth quarter says that championships are won when nobody is looking.

Champions are also made when nobody is looking.

There have been countless practices where David is one of the last ones off the field after being one of the first ones on it. He picks up the tackling bags and the drill cones and the yard markers and the balls and does it all with a smile. And it does my heart good to see someone like Trevor Lawrence walk out of the indoor facility but stop and go out of his way to get one of David’s hugs.

Stuff like that is what makes Clemson a special place.

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