Pearman thinks Allen ready to take step forward, likes depth at tackle

by - Senior Writer -
Allen caught 10 passes for 108 yards and three scores last season while playing behind Michael Palmer. (Photos: Icon SMI)

CLEMSON – Clemson’s Dwayne Allen has the talent to be one of the best tight ends in the nation.

All of the physical tools are there, and they were on display during the Spring Game when he caught three passes for 81 yards, but tackles/tight ends coach Danny Pearman said recently that when the mental side of the game catches up with the physical side, Allen is going to be a terror.

“He's a very gifted young man,” Pearman said recently of Allen. “Athletically he's explosive. He's strong. He's got a great gift for running. If he'll really apply himself, he can do some really nice things here. That's why I always have to talk about growing on the mental side, which he has done. I've been pleased with his progress - learning coverages, learning defenses, where he is in the progression of the read, understanding the depths and spacing of routes - things he hadn't taken very seriously up until the last little bit.”

Allen caught 10 passes for 108 yards and three scores last season while playing behind Michael Palmer, who caught 43 balls for 507 yards and four touchdowns, and while Pearman admits that Allen still has a long way to go, he is reminded of another former ACC tight end when he sees Allen: Vernon Davis, who caught 51 passes for 871 yards for Maryland in 2006 and now plays for the San Francisco 49ers.

“I didn't actually coach him but I know him,” Pearman said of Davis. “I think Dwayne is similar to him athletically. That's a very good compliment to Dwayne. But Dwayne has a lot to work on from a blocking standpoint to earn that type of accolade."

The only other returning tight end who saw significant action last season is Chad Diehl, who caught two passes in 2009, but Diehl will see most of his time at fullback and Pearman admitted that the unit is still a “work in progress.”

“I think there's an awful lot of experience coming back in two kids, but also an awful lot of work to be done,” Pearman said. “We moved Darrell Smith over from defense mid-spring. He's got a lot to learn in order to help us. Drew Traylor and Kasey Nobles got a lot of work this spring. Hopefully they can help us. And then we've got two freshmen coming in, in Sam Cooper and Vic Beasley - they'll be joining us hopefully the second session of summer school.

"Obviously Chad Diehl and Dwayne Allen had solid springs for us. They should have. It's their time to perform. They've been around in roles. Now they need to step up in leadership roles. So far they've done a nice job with that."

The Clemson coaching staff released a summer depth chart yesterday, and it was no surprise to see Allen listed as the starter, with Traylor listed as second-team and Smith at third-team. One player who could figure to shake up the depth chart in the fall is Beasley, a 6-4, 210-pounder who Pearman said will be definitely be on offense, not defense, this fall.

“He's a tight end. I won't have to fend off anybody,” Pearman said. “We'll do what’s best for our football team. Wherever he can help us the fastest, that’s what you have to do. I can have all the players and be unemployed just as easily. We have to do what's best for our football team. That's where we'll start him is tight end."

Pearman also coaches the tackles on the offensive line, and he said he definitely feels better about his group heading into 2010 than he did heading into 2009.

"I feel better this year than last year simply because last year as a collective group we were hunting one,” Pearman said. “We feel good as far as our first-group with Chris Hairston and Landon Walker. Giving a lot of work to Phillip Price and Brandon Thomas - they weren't perfect by any stretch this spring, but they don't have to be either. They need another good fall camp. Hopefully they can get in the rotation this fall for us. That would be a good thing for our football team if they could do that."

Price opened eyes this spring with his play, and appeared bigger than in the past.

"He looks real lean. That kid is almost 290,” Pearman said. “I said, 'You gotta be kidding.' I think he said 288. It won't look much different when he's 300. He's carrying the weight well. He doesn't have a lot of missed assignments, but technique stuff, explosive stuff, his punch out of his hips; he needs to work on that. His footwork is pretty good. I've been pleased with his progress. He came here as a tight end and sort of outgrew the position. He's really applied himself."

As for Thomas, Pearman said the spring ended with Thomas being a “functional” member of the line.

"I think by the end of the spring, he ended up where he was functional out there, not only assignment-wise, but technique wise,” he said. “He got quite a bit of work. And he went against good people. We're blessed in the fact that we've got some really good ends that he practices against every day. He's going against good opponents.

"He's got a lot of work to do, but I thought he got better this spring. I'm pleased with where he's at. And we've got to get a [second-team] guy in that spot. That's a priority for us. Chris has done an admirable job there and he's been one of our bell-cow guys. With him being a senior, obviously we've got to get somebody ready for him to pass that torch to."

Tackles and Tight End Depth Chart

Pos. # Player 			Hgt Wgt Cl.
LT 61 CHRIS HAIRSTON 		6-7 325 *Sr.
   63 Brandon Thomas 		6-4 295 *Fr.
RT 72 LANDON WALKER 		6-6 305 *Jr.
   79 Phillip Price 		6-6 280 *Jr.
TE 83 DWAYNE ALLEN 		6-4 255 *So.
   82 Drew Traylor 		6-4 235 *Jr.
   84 Darrell Smith 		6-3 230 *Fr.

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