Spring Practice Preview: OL has to replace four starters


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Matt Bockhorst is ready to step into a starter's role
Matt Bockhorst is ready to step into a starter's role

After coming up short in the national championship game, the expectations are still higher than ever and with spring practice kicking off in just over a week, it’s time to take a look at where Clemson stands position by position.

Clemson looks to rebuild an offensive line that lost four starters from the 2019 squad.

Offensive line

Roster (depth chart returners, freshmen)

Matt Bockhorst – Junior (6-4, 310)

Kaleb Boateng – Redshirt Freshman (6-3,300)

Mason Trotter – Redshirt Freshman (6-2, 270)

Hunter Rayburn – Redshirt Freshman (6-4, 315)

Will Putnam – Sophomore (6-4, 295)

Cade Stewart – Redshirt Senior (6-3, 305)

Blake Vinson – Redshirt Junior (6-4, 300)

Jordan McFadden – Redshirt Sophomore (6-2, 295)

Jackson Carman – Junior (6-5, 345)

Paul Tchio – Freshman^ (6-5, 320)

Mitchell Mayes – Freshman^ (6-4, 315)

Bryn Tucker – Freshman^ (6-5, 290)

^ Early Enrollee

Three Questions

Who joins Jackson Carman in the starting rotation?

Stewart will get the first crack at the center spot.

“Cade Stewart has done really well there. He is another one of those guys that wherever you need him, he knows what's going on. I am excited about him,” Caldwell said. “He's very, very powerful. What I have to hone him on is attention to detail, especially at the center position, he has to direct traffic and those kinds of things. I really see him having a big, big year there.”

Freshman Will Putnam earned playing time last season and tallied 192 snaps in 11 games.

“Will has been with me all year. We only had 10 guys so he has filled in a spot and has made a ton of progress,” Caldwell said. “He has played about 200 plays this year. It has been really good for him because graduation will deplete, so having a guy with experience hopefully will be a big help. He loves the weight room and has gotten really strong. I believe I saw where he weighs 294 pounds now, and he is adjusting and adding some weight. It's really good weight because his body fat has gone down and his strength has gone up.”

Matt Bockhorst is the name to watch and could slide in at one of the guard spots. He can play anywhere along the line and has the second-most snaps of any returnee. Jordan McFadden is expected to take over at the right tackle spot.

Can Blake Vinson get healthy enough to become a regular contributor?

Caldwell expects Vinson to be ready to go.

“Blake had the knee surgery and he's doing good. He started running when we were out in Arizona,” Caldwell said. “That was his first time running on the ground. Of course, he's been running in water. He looks good bending and moving and he's gotten stronger and bigger. He has worked on his upper body, of course, while his legs were down. That has been very productive as far as that goes. We wish we would have had him to play some this year. Hopefully. he will be ready and maybe he will get another year down the line and that would be really good for us.”

Which freshmen will be able to pick up the offense in order to provide quality depth?

Boateng and Rayburn redshirted last season and should be ready to contribute. However, one or more of the true freshmen need to be ready to play this season. Tchio, Mayes and Tucker get their chance this spring to show what they can do.

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