Swinney likes his freshmen as Tigers get physical at practice

by - Senior Writer -
Kobe Pace stretches for the goal line during a drill Monday. (Photo courtesy CUAD)
Kobe Pace stretches for the goal line during a drill Monday. (Photo courtesy CUAD)

CLEMSON – Day four of Clemson’s spring practice is in the books, and head coach Dabo Swinney is excited about the freshmen.

The Tigers practiced for two hours indoors Monday afternoon.

“Day four of spring practice. It's been a fun four days. We have got a lot of work done,” Swinney said. “I really like this football team. I think this roster is ahead of where we were last year at this time from a functional standpoint. And, we have a lot of competition going on out here. We were a young team last year and a lot of guys have made a lot of improvement.”

The Tigers installed phase three of tempo.

“Tracking, Thud, and Live. That is how we go about installing things,” Swinney said. “A lot of live work today and it's fun to see these guys. This will be a big week for us and we will have a little more live this week and some situational and scrimmage stuff Saturday.”

Other notes

*Loves last year's freshman class: "The freshmen that were here last season, there is a bunch of those guys that have noticeably improved and that is what you would expect. And then we have 12 mid-years, and the one thing that I would say about those guys is that we think we hit on all of those guys in what they can be and expect them to be at their positions. But it's still too early to single any of them out. But it's a good group, a special group of guys. But this is a veteran team and it's good to see guys taking the next step, those rising sophomore and rising juniors and rising seniors. We have our whole roster except for seven signees that aren't here yet."

*Says that DJ Uiagalelei's leadership is developing organically, but he is also earning the respect of his teammates. Swinney said they need DJ to step up and be that leader and lead by example. Swinney said Uiagalelei is very cool and calm and poised, but he is also committed and passionate about being great. Says DJ had an unbelievable day Monday and is in a good place.

*On numbers in the secondary, Swinney said their number is 16 and they are at 15 (9 safeties and 6 corners). Swinney said he feels good about the talent they have there. Down one at corner but they feel like they might have a couple of safeties that can help. Out of the six corners, they feel like they have elite guys. As to whether he would use the transfer portal for this spot, they will take a look at what happens this spring (will there be an injury, or can a safety step up). However, they aren't gonna dip into the portal just to get a substitute. Would have to be an elite, multi-year starter type of talent. If there isn't a player like that, then they are good where they are.

*Swinney says they are back in business at wideout. They have a lot of guys back and he is hopeful Justyn Ross can be the starter at the slot spot. They have a lot of guys that can fill that spot and they are excited about the talent on hand. He said that Ross can play all over the field. Swinney said that Derrick Hamilton was very unique in his style and ability and later explosiveness in his cuts, and Ross reminds Swinney of Hamilton. Said he was “Renfrow-esque.” Swinney said that he thinks moving to the slot will be great for Ross' career.

*Center Ryan Linthicum has a long way to go. Swinney said Linthicum will be a really talented player, but he just got here and has four football practices under his belt and has a lot to learn. Looks like Hunter Rayburn is the early standout at the center spot. Swinney said Rayburn is a redshirt sophomore and he is going into his third year and the light has gone on. Mason Trotter is also playing there, as has Matt Bockhorst. Swinney said Bockhorst can play center if they need him to.

*Linebacker James Skalski and safety Nolan Turner aren't doing any live work this spring. They are doing “thud” and “skelly” but otherwise acting as coaches.

*Swinney said they are looking at a lot of different players in the return game. "You can tell right away who is ready for the show and who's not."

*Wide receivers Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson are back at practice and look focused and in full health.

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