Clemson Back at Spring Practice, Health Not an Issue

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers were back at work Monday afternoon, following a layoff for spring break, and head coach Dabo Swinney said he was pleased with the practice and was glad to have everybody back and healthy, except for one player.

Swinney said that freshman placekicker Spencer Benton, from Myrtle Beach, hurt his shoulder while snowboarding during the break, but the Tigers are otherwise healthy.

“He is one of those extreme sports kinds of guys,” Swinney said of Benton. “His foot wasn’t broke, so he was on the field today. But everybody is back, which is always a blessing. You always worry about that when you have young people riding all over the place.”

Swinney said the wide receivers are still inconsistent as a group, but was encouraged by the play of Brandon Clear, the tall freshman out of Alabama.

“It is a talented group, and they are getting better every day, but I was really encouraged by Brandon Clear,” Swinney said. “He made some plays today and really stood out. He has had some success, and success gets contagious. Now it’s time for guys like Xavier Dye and Marquan Jones to step up as well.”

However, Swinney said the Tigers have to be more balanced if they want to compete for an ACC Championship.

“We are all committed to being a fast football team,” Swinney said. “You have to be able to throw and catch when people give us those opportunities. There are going to be games when we have to throw for 300 yards, and games where we have to rush for 300 yards. Our ability to do that consistently will have an impact on the type of season we have, but it’s a good thing, because we have those types of players.”

Swinney also mentioned the play of the offensive line, and said that he fully intends to give Mason Cloy every opportunity to the starting center in September, but said knowing that he has Thomas Austin and Barry Humphries ready to step in is a bonus.

Another offensive lineman to earn his praise was freshman Antoine McClain.

“Antoine McClain is moving like a different guy,” Swinney said. “He walks like a different guy; he talks like a different guy. He is much more confident, and that is what going through the battles will do for you. How good we are going to be will depend on who emerges up front.”

Swinney also said that the Tiger defense was ahead of the offense at this stage of the spring, and has been impressed with how junior defensive end Kevin Alexander has looked so far.

“The defense is really starting to communicate, and starting to buy into what we are doing,” Swinney said. “Kevin Alexander, the consensus across the board is that he is of the best 11 players. He has been a real pleasant guy for us this spring. Jarvis Jenkins is another one.”

Swinney also mentioned Kavell Conner and DeAndre McDaniel, then said he is continuing to be impressed with his stable of young runners on the offense, including Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington.

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