Projected Starters: Offense


by - Senior Writer -
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Can Isaiah Battle take the next step to dominant left tackle?

Spring practice begins next week and several position battles are up in the air as the Tigers begin a month-long process that ends with the annual spring game on April 11th. Before we head into the spring, however, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what I think the starting lineups would look like if the season started today.

There is a still a lot of time before the Tigers take the field against Wofford in early September and there are still some dynamic playmakers that have yet to arrive on campus – Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain – and things can and will change. We also don’t know what the freshman offensive lineman are going to show during the spring.

But here is an early guess at what a starting lineup would look like for the offense:

QUARTERBACK

*Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
Fr. Quarterback
#4 6-3, 204
Gainesville, GA

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. It’s not even close, and as long as the Gainesville (GA) native is healthy, he is not only the starter but is one of the most dynamic players in the nation. During an injury-plagued true freshman season Watson put up some outstanding numbers – Watson was 93-of-137 passing for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns against only two interceptions in 330 snaps over eight games (five starts) and completed 67.9 percent of his passes and had a 188.6 pass efficiency rating. A true dual-threat quarterback, he had 200 yards and five touchdowns on 63 carries on the ground. There really isn’t a lot to be said about Watson that hasn’t been said already. It’s up to him to get healthy and up to us to sit back and watch the fireworks.

RUNNING BACK

*Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS Fr. Running Back
#9 6-1, 209
Loganville, GA

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. Gallman is the day-one starter because of his production during the latter half of the season. Gallman had a team-high 769 yards and four touchdowns on 161 carries along with 24 receptions for 108 yards and one touchdown in 457 snaps over 13 games (nine starts). In his last four games against ACC or SEC teams, he had 486 yards and two touchdowns on 89 carries. He will battle Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS Fr. Running Back
#23 5-11, 214
Elberton, GA

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, Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
Fr. Running Back
#26 5-10, 211
Thomasville, GA

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, Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Jr. Running Back
#24 6-1, 199
Jonesboro, AR

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, C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Jr. Running Back
#32 5-10, 203
Clemson, SC

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and C.J. FullerC.J. Fuller
Fr. Running Back
#27 5-11, 216
Easley, SC

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for the starting spot, but it’s his to lose. Expect a tough battle between Gallman and Dye for the top spot.

WIDE RECEIVER

*Mike WilliamsMike Williams
So. Wide Receiver
#7 6-5, 208
Vance, SC

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. Williams was a better receiver with Watson in 2014, and a healthy Watson could mean big numbers for Williams. He has 77 receptions for 1,346 yards and nine touchdowns in 1,153 snaps over 26 games (14 starts) in his career and is seventh in school history in yards per reception (17.5). In 2014, he had 57 receptions for a team-high 1,030 yards and six touchdowns in 749 snaps over 13 games (11 starts). Williams has NFL potential.

*Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
Fr. Wide Receiver
#3 5-11, 190
Oldsmar, FL

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. Speaking of NFL potential, Scott has all the tools to be another high-round draft choice. During a true freshman campaign in 2014, Scott was off-the-charts electric – He was a First-team freshman All-American by USA Today, first-team first-year freshman All-American by 247Sports.com and ESPN, second-team freshman All-American by Athlon and Scout.com, Second-Team All-ACC selection (media), second-team All-ACC by Athlon, Third-Team All-ACC selection (coaches), third-team All-ACC by Phil Steele, and had a team-high 76 receptions for 965 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns, 18 yards on six carries and a 19-yard kickoff return in 550 snaps over 13 games (six starts). Scott is still developing as a player and will only get better.

*Charone PeakeCharone Peake
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 204
Moore, SC

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. He had just four starts last fall in an injury-plagued campaign. Peake tore his ACL in September of 2013 and was granted a medical redshirt. He didn’t return to contact work until August of 2014 but battled knee soreness all season. He wound up with 12 receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns in 221 snaps over seven games (four starts). The last remaining member of Clemson’s top-ranked receiving class of 2011, this is a critical season for Peake. If he isn’t healthy or has to miss time, a player like Deon Cain might grab his spot and take over.

TIGHT END

*Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
So. Tight End
#16 6-5, 251
Navarre, FL

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. Leggett will have to hold off the challenge of freshmen Milan RichardMilan Richard
Fr. Tight End
#80 6-3, 243
Savannah, GA

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and Cannon SmithCannon Smith
Fr. Tight End
#84 6-5, 235
Columbia, SC

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as well as veterans Stanton SeckingerStanton Seckinger
RS Jr. Tight End
#81 6-4, 241
Isle of Palms, SC

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and Jay Jay McCulloughJay Jay McCullough
RS So. Tight End
#89 6-3, 248
Fort Mill, SC

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(pending his return). The good news is that he was first in receptions for tight ends in 2014, but the bad news is that it was just 14 for an underwhelming 161 yards. Clemson needs more production out of that spot in 2015, and it’s time for Leggett to break out.

LEFT TACKLE

*Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Jr. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-7, 285
Brooklyn, NY

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. He had 18 knockdowns in 824 snaps over 12 games (11 starts) and figures to play left tackle even though he can play on the right side. The coaches love Battle’s athleticism, and he was downfield blocking on a lot of the jet sweep plays to Artavis Scott late in the season. Another player who has NFL potential, but he loses focus at times and seems to take certain plays off or misses assignments. When he is making plays, however, he is fun to watch.

LEFT GUARD

*Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#78 6-4, 306
Hope Mills, NC

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OR Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 292
Simpsonville, SC

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. This is another battle that will bear watching this spring. Mac Lain is a converted tight end who is listed at 305 pounds and getting stronger. He played 245 snaps over 13 games (one start) and had two knockdowns in 62 snaps against Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Norton was the Tigers’ starting center for most of 2014, but the coaches were unhappy with his effort and started Jay GuillermoJay Guillermo
RS So. Center
#57 6-3, 314
Maryville, TN

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. Norton can play either guard or tackle, and if Guillermo takes over at center Norton could wind up playing one of the guard spots.

CENTER

Ryan Norton OR Jay Guillermo. Norton has seen significant action at both center and offensive guard and has 49 knockdowns in 1,855 snaps over 38 games (24 starts) in his career. Guillermo is considered by many to be more physical at the point of attack and logged 207 snaps in 2014. A foot injury caused him to miss the middle part of the season. This will be another battle to watch this spring, and the starter here might not be determined until just before the start of the season. A lot could also depend on if Norton has to move to guard.

RIGHT GUARD

*Tyrone CrowderTyrone Crowder
RS Fr. Offensive Guard
#55 6-2, 322
Marston, NC

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OR Norton. You have to believe the coaches will give Crowder every chance to earn the starting job. Crowder looks the part of a big, intimidating lineman. He is a powerful run blocker who is still learning to pass block. He had five knockdowns in 203 snaps over six games (one start) and had two knockdowns in 34 snaps against Oklahoma in the bowl game.

RIGHT TACKLE

*Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-5, 283
Lake Waccamaw, NC

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. Gore was lauded by the coaches during fall camp last year and it appeared he had turned the corner. However, Gore struggled against Georgia and Kalon DavisKalon Davis
RS Sr. Offensive Guard
#67 6-5, 340
Chester, SC

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was moved to the right tackle spot early in the season. Gore still managed to log 237 snaps in three starts, and another spring should give him the time he needs to complete the transition from the defense. He has the size (6-5, 290) and the athleticism to be an outstanding right tackle. He will have to battle Maverick MorrisMaverick Morris
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#69 6-4, 291
Broxton, GA

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, Mitch Hyatt, Jake Fruhmorgen and possibly Noah Green this spring depending on where the coaches put the freshmen. Gore is another upperclassman facing a critical season.

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