Clemson Saturday football practice report

by - Senior Writer -
Dabo says that nobody has covered Nuk Hopkins so far in camp

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers ran through their first of the 2012 spring practice in pads Saturday morning, going through a two-hour practice in the friendly confines of Death Valley in front of a Youth Day crowd.

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said that he has been pleased with how senior center Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#55 6-5, 285
Pelion, SC

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has acted as another coach out on the field.

“He is literally like having a 10th assistant coach,” Swinney said. “He is just rare. One of those special guys that comes along every once in a while. He takes pride in that unit. He has really emerged as the go-to guy over there.”

Swinney said that Freeman has also been beneficial in trying to help Tyler ShatleyTyler Shatley
RS So. Offensive Line
#43 6-3, 295
Icard, NC

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, who has moved from defensive tackle to the offensive line.

“Shatley has been a great move for us,” he said. “He looks natural. He is a very powerful guy that solidifies our offense. I think he has a chance to be a 70 to 80-play guy instead of a 20-play guy. This was a great move for our team and him, and I am proud of how he has bought in and learned the system.”


*Linebacker Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Fr. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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told us that he has been seeing most of the snaps at first-team MIKE [middle] linebacker, but has also been seeing some time over at the WILL [weakside] linebacker spot. He said new defensive coordinator Brent Venables wants him to learn both. He also said that Venables’ scheme is easier to pick up than Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
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’s, and Venables is very much a hands-on teacher. We will have more of his interview later.

*Swinney on the younger players who came in this past January

“I called out the three guys that had prom dates – O.J. {Oliver JonesOliver Jones
Fr. Offensive Line
# 6-7, 320
Ninety Six, SC

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], [Jay] Guillermo and [Patrick] DeStefano. Those old boys, they have a lot of pride. We hit on all those guys. They are tough, athletic and want to please. They are going to be good players. Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
Fr. Defensive Back
# 6-1, 180
Tallahassee, FL

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has been really good. Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Fr. Athlete
# 6-2, 180
Jonesboro, AR

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ran really hard today. He just has to learn to hold the football at this level.”

*Swinney on the team’s effort

“This was fun day, a really fun day for me. We were enthusiastic on both sides of the ball. Guys came ready to play. We have a long way to go and we need a lot of work. But if they will continue to give us the kind of effort they are giving right now, we have a chance to be a really solid team.”

*Swinney, Freeman and offensive coordinator Chad Morris all talked about how athletic this year’s offensive line has a chance to be. Freeman said he thinks this will be the most athletic line he has played on, while Morris said he will hold judgment on how athletic they are for another week – he doesn’t know if they look fast because they aren’t thinking or if they are truly fast.

*Swinney on the continued development of quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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“He is so much further along than he was this time last year. It’s not even remotely close. He has so much more command. We had a little good-on-good at the end of practice yesterday, and he checks into a play, which is something he wouldn’t have been able to do this time last year. He is doing a good job of leading, and he is focused and dialed in. He also has lots of improving to do, especially from a game-management standpoint.”

*Swinney on Nuk Hopkins

“Nuk Hopkins has been unbelievable. Nobody has covered him yet. The thing about it is, this is really his first off-season. When he was a senior in high school, he went all the way to the state championship in basketball, and he gets in here that summer and he was just a scrawny freshman that had to play right away. Then last year he plays basketball, so this is his first true off-season. He is about 212 pounds now, and he has gotten stronger. He looks great, and that has transferred over to the practice field. Right now, he is just one of those guys that feels like he can catch any ball thrown to him and he can beat anybody.”

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