No rush to make redshirt decisions on freshmen


by - Senior Writer -
Freshman wide receiver Joe Ngata has been impressive during camp
Freshman wide receiver Joe Ngata has been impressive during camp

CLEMSON – In years past, college football coaches made redshirt decisions in late August with the hope they could hold those players until the following season. Under the new rules, the coaches have some breathing room.

The new rule was implemented last season and says that players will now be allowed to play in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt season, maintaining four years of eligibility. In the past, playing just one game could cost a player an entire season of eligibility.

Head coach Dabo Swinney told the media Monday that the coaches have an idea of the players they want to redshirt but have the luxury of waiting until later in the season to make a final decision.

“First of all, everybody’s going to play. So that’s the big news. The way it is today is that everyone’s going to play,” Swinney said. “We’ve got four games to play with. We’ve got a few guys that we think for sure we’re going to be able to hold. Then we’ve got several that I always say are on the bubble that are going to play four games, and then we’ll make a decision from there. Then we’ve got some guys that we know are going to play. We’re not going to get into all those names, but we’ve definitely made some decisions.”

Swinney went on to say that he’s seen leadership out of some of the freshmen.

“There’s just only so much you can do. I wish I could say, ‘Boom! They’re a junior.’ It just doesn’t work like that. Just like you asked me about Travis Etienne,” Swinney said. “He was a good player as a freshman, but he’s light years ahead of where he was. There’s only so far you can take guys, and now you’ve got to go play. They’ve got to get some game confidence, experience, adjustments.

“But I love the group, I think they’re serious about it. I think football is important to them. They’ve got a lot of enthusiasm with those guys, and that’s a huge thing. They don’t mind being coached. The biggest thing is that they’ve got some self-awareness. I think a lot of times, when you have a problem is when freshmen are in denial of where they are and what they’ve got to do. But I don’t think we’ve got any of those guys that are in denial. They’re all really self-aware of, ‘Here’s where I am, and we’ve all got a long way to go.’"

Freshman wide receiver Joe Ngata has drawn rave reviews in camp and will play all season barring injury, but Swinney cautioned that even Ngata has room to grow.

“Even the guys we think right now are going to help us right away, like Ngata, you’ve heard me say really good things about him, but he’s nowhere near where he’s going to be as a junior,” Swinney said. “But from a starting standpoint, as a freshman, he’s one of those guys that’s up here, but he’s still got a long way to go. But I think all of them are very self-aware of what they have to do to be better players. I don’t think anybody’s in denial of “I should be the starter, and they’re all crazy.” I think there’s a lot of self-awareness and trust and respect of the process that we’ve got to go through and they have to go through to be ready to help win.

“The good news is, with the new rule change, they’re all going to have an opportunity to play, and I love that because it keeps everybody engaged. That’s one of the worst things is when you tell a guy “Hey, you’re not going to play,” keeping him engaged was always a challenge. But when a guy knows he’s going to have a chance to play, and he doesn’t know when it is, it keeps him much more in tune week in and week out from a prep standpoint. So, I think that standpoint is good. Excited to see all of those guys get opportunities, and we’ll see how the season goes and play it out from there.”

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