Camp Wrap: Young and talented group ready to make a title run?


by - Staff Writer -
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Youngsters like Ray-Ray McCloud ensure a bright future
Youngsters like Ray-Ray McCloud ensure a bright future

The Clemson football team will assume a little more of a normal routine now that the camp portion of preseason practice schedule is over, and that means we can take a look at what we’ve learned over the past couple of weeks.

The students began classes on Wednesday, the team will hold a scrimmage Thursday and then begin their Wofford preparations. That doesn’t mean, however, that this team is ready to roll into its first game. There are still jobs up for grabs, questions to be answered and the Tigers need for certain players to get healthy in a hurry.

With that in mind, here are some quick observations of the team as a whole, including special teams. Yesterday we took a look at the biggest question marks, but those question marks don’t mean the Tigers are headed for a downfall. The linebacker depth should shake out, and the offensive line will get better as the season goes along.

Despite all of the question marks, there are plenty of positives to take away from Clemson’s two-week fall camp. Let’s take a look:

*While there are questions in the kicking game, Clemson may finally have an answer on kick return. Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
So. Wide Receiver
#3 5-10, 190
Oldsmar, FL

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, Ray-Ray McCloudRay-Ray McCloud
Fr. Wide Receiver
#34 5-9, 175
Land O' Lakes, FL

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and Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#5 5-11, 175
Charlotte, NC

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all look like naturals in the return game.

Scott will probably get the first crack at returning punts since he has had more work with the return unit, but don’t discount McCloud. He not only has the shiftiness but also the top-end speed. Hopper has spent the last three years looking to make his niche, and he just might find it on kick returns if he can earn the coaches’ trust.

*Most people would agree that Clemson’s season hinges on the health of quarterback Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 205
Gainesville, GA

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, and the good news is that it doesn’t appear that Watson’s knee – or the brace – are a hindrance. The sophomore signal caller can make all of the throws and appears to be able to make all of the cuts.

Every time we’ve spoken with Watson he’s made it a point to tell us that his knee is the furthest thing from his mind.

*The biggest question mark coming into the season was how well the defense could replace all of the stars off of the 2014 squad. The players are sick of talking about it and have done their best to show what they are capable of during the first two weeks of practice.

The starting 11 – Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Jr. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 269
Central, SC

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, D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Defensive Tackle (2012 - 2015)
#48 6-2, 325
Greensboro, NC

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, Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 295
Mooresboro, NC

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, Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
Taylors, SC

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, Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
Jr. Outside Linebacker
#10 6-0, 235
Anderson, SC

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, B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS Sr. Linebacker
#44 6-0, 240
Lamar, SC

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, Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
Safety (2012 - 2015)
#11 6-0, 210
Tallahassee, FL

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, Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS So. Cornerback
#2 5-10, 190
Immokalee, FL

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, Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
Jr. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 195
Beech Island, SC

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, Jayron Kearse and T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 205
Sylacauga, AL

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– will be just fine. Despite all of the departed NFL talent, there’s still plenty of talent on the defensive roster and you won’t see much drop off with these 11.

*The Clemson coaching staff hit on the recruits in the 2015 recruiting class. From what we’ve seen and heard Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Line
#75 6-6, 270
Sugar Hill, GA

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, Jake FruhmorgenJake Fruhmorgen
Fr. Offensive Line
#63 6-5, 285
Tampa, FL

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, Deon CainDeon Cain
Fr. Wide Receiver
#8 6-1, 190
Tampa, FL

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, Ray-Ray McCloud, Kelly BryantKelly Bryant
Fr. Quarterback
#2 6-4, 205
Calhoun Falls, SC

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, Christian WilkinsChristian Wilkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#42 6-5, 305
Longmeadow, CT

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, Austin BryantAustin Bryant
Fr. Defensive End
#91 6-4, 250
Pavo, GA

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, Clelin FerrellClelin Ferrell
Fr. Defensive End
#99 6-5, 220
Richmond, VA

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and Mark FieldsMark Fields
Fr. Cornerback
#24 5-10, 185
Cornelius, NC

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are now poised to make an immediate impact and provide quality depth.

*This team is talented. Very, very talented. We’ve said all along that this might head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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’s best-looking the team. The defensive linemen look like monsters. The linebackers are athletic. The secondary looks like it is full of future NFL talent. The tight ends are a good looking group. The young offensive linemen have been a revelation.

Then we get to the skill players – the Tigers know what they have in Watson and older players like Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Gr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-2, 205
Moore, SC

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and Mike WilliamsMike Williams
Jr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-4, 210
Vance, SC

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. But Watson is a sophomore. Artavis Scott is a sophomore. Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 205
Loganville, GA

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is a sophomore. Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 215
Elberton, GA

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is a sophomore. Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
So. Running Back
#26 5-9, 215
Thomasville, GA

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is a sophomore. C.J. FullerC.J. Fuller
RS Fr. Running Back
#27 5-9, 215
Easley, SC

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is a freshman. Bryant is a freshman. Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-2, 195
Durham, NC

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is a freshman. Deon Cain is a freshman. McCloud is a freshman.

Add in all of the young defensive players, and it’s obvious that this team and this program is built for the long haul.

*Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the running back corps. Gallman looks like a man on a mission. He put on some much needed weight in the offseason and is running more confident than at any point last season. For a guy who didn’t play a lot of running back in high school, his upside is huge. C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Sr. Running Back
#21 5-10, 200
Clemson, SC

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is ready to put last season’s struggles behind him and end his Clemson career on a high note. Dye is finally healthy and beginning to look like the player we all expected out high school. Fuller looks like a big-time running back and is chomping at the bit to get his opportunity.

This team is young and talented and is built for a sustained run. There will be plenty of wins to celebrate this season, and this group is talented enough to overcome the few questions we have. Can they win a championship? The ACC title game is the goal, and this might be the most talented group in the conference and will make a run at that game. Can they navigate a tough schedule and do enough damage to make the four-team playoff? We’ve seen enough good to think so.

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Ridgeland Booster
spacer 2016 will be a better team but the schedule is tougher.
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spacer 11-1***
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spacer who's your suggested loss?
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spacer This only reaffirms what we all already knew.....
mapman
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spacer Did you read who wrote the article?
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spacer David didn't write this article bro...
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spacer Fairly sure Gallman is a Jr. - enjoyed rest of article - GO
tigeron®
spacer Redshirt Sophomore***
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spacer Thanks, that means that he can declare for draft, right?
tigeron®
spacer So basically, Nikki...
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spacer In Nikki's defense... We ARE undefeated.***
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clemvol
spacer hypothetical: so 11-1, ACC Champs, but we lose tight one at Cola....
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spacer That's the good, the bad is....
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