Redshirt Report, Defense: Who is standing out in bowl practice?


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Swinney says LB Shaq Smith has made the most of his redshirt season
Swinney says LB Shaq Smith has made the most of his redshirt season

CLEMSON – Bowl practice is a time for the redshirts and the younger players that saw limited action during the season to show the coaches what they can do, and Tuesday’s scrimmage was no exception as head coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of the coaches got an extended look at freshmen.

Following Wednesday’s practice, TigerNet sat down with Swinney in an exclusive interview to detail the progress of those players and he started out by saying he was thrilled with the scrimmage.

“We actually scrimmaged yesterday and that was a blast. We had a lot of fun watching those guys compete. The first guy that jumped out was little Hall Morton - a walk on safety,” Swinney said. “He made about three plays that brought everybody to their feet out there. It's fun to see teammates get excited for guys. It really is. The varsity had some conditioning and they stayed around to watch and they all got into it. It was a blast. I thought Zerrick Cooper made a great touchdown throw to Diondre Overton and he had a nice play. There were some nice plays on defense. Shaq Smith had a great sideline to sideline play. All of those guys. Nolan Turner, Isaiah Simmons, Amir Trapp - some guys are playing a little bit now but most of the guys aren't playing.

Nyles Pinckney continues to shine and stand out. Jamie Skalski, it's good to see him get out there and get some scrimmage work. We had Gage Cervenka snapping. I was very impressed watching him snap yesterday. He's working guard and center. Getting those young tight ends like J.C. Chalk a bunch of good work. Shadell Bell, it's good for him as he's transitioning into that tight end position. T.J. Chase. Darien Rencher is a young running back. We moved Ty Thomason back there to running back. He had a nice play. Ryan Mac Lain. A lot of the guy's names you might not recognize, but we have fun with that. Trayvon Mullen is out there competing. The Tuesday practice in Arizona, we'll have another scrimmage opportunity.”

Here are Swinney’s thoughts on the rest of the defense, and we will run the offense Friday morning.

Trayvon Mullen

“He's going to be a great player. Progressing. Very focused. Very committed. Very coachable. I love his demeanor and the way he prepares.”

Shaq Smith

“Unbelievable semester. Made a 3.75 GPA. One of the best guys we had in Power Hour. Great leader. Just a magnet for guys on this team and such an example of how you respond to whatever situation you're in. He took this opportunity to get better and he has done that. Really, really proud of Shaq.”

Lasamuel Davis

“He's a work in progress. He's up to about 220. He's picked up some weight. He came in here right around 200. He's gotten stronger. He's putting in the work. I like his attitude. I like his demeanor. He's a high-energy, high-effort guy. He's just a guy that's got to continue to physically develop and if he will do that in time, he'll be a factor.”

Isaiah Simmons

“Special athlete. Really special athlete. Another guy that was kind wild in our Power Hour group. He looks good getting off the bus. He's going to be a good one.”

Xavier Kelly

“Physical specimen. Was on the bubble of maybe playing but got hurt and had a setback, but has just done great. He's done great on the scout team and excellent in Power Hour. He's just physically really blessed. Explosive. Tremendous potential and high upside.”

Nolan Turner

“Same thing. Bigger. Stronger. Incredibly committed to the Power Hour. He's a little over 200-pounds now. He can run. He's one of our faster guys back there in the secondary. Very, very high football IQ.”

Nyles Pinckney

“Nyles is - I hate to put the tag on him, but he's a Grady Jarrett in the making. He's a grinder. He's a guy that cares an awful lot about being a good player and works hard at it. I think it was hard for him not to play but he took advantage of his opportunity and his body is better. He's stronger. He's healthy and he's a guy that's really going to help us.”

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