Redshirt Report, Offense: Tigers are loaded with young talent


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T.J. Chase has added 20 pounds since he's been on campus
T.J. Chase has added 20 pounds since he's been on campus

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 offense. Swinney also told us that the first practice in Phoenix – next Tuesday – will also be a showcase for the younger players and we hope to have more then.

Zerrick Cooper

“I'm really proud of him. He's been able to kind of sit back and learn. What an unbelievable example he's had in Deshaun. He has all of the tools and has taken advantage of his opportunity. Obviously, he doesn't get a lot of reps or opportunity but the thing I'm most proud of is he has been completely engaged all season as far as learning the system. Really, really proud of him and excited about cutting him loose and watching him go compete with Kelly Bryant and the other guys.”

TJ Chase

“Transformed. He's about 20 pounds heavier and much stronger. He came in here about 160 pounds. I think he's at least 180 now. He's like a miniature physique of Larry Fitzgerald. He's got that body type. He's really going to be a good player. He's a technician. He's a very prideful young man. He had a great semester and made over a 3.0 and really proud of him. He's going to be a good player.”

J.C. Chalk

“Just physically developing. He's up in that 240-plus range and has excellent ball skills. He's got to learn how to play tight end. He played tight end but he mostly played in the spread so kind of like Jordan Leggett in that he's got to learn some of the other nuances but he's done a good job. He wants to be a good player. This offseason will be huge for him. I've been impressed with his toughness that I've seen so far.”

Cade Stewart

“Going to be a heck of a player. He's going to be really good. Loves it. Tough as nails. I've been very impressed with his versatility. He's played some tackle. I really thought he'd be a center or guard and he'll probably end up there but he's shown he can go out there and hold his own at tackle, too. He's going to be a very, very versatile player, but incredibly physical. He's one of those hard hat guys that you're going to love to have on the team.”

Shadell Bell

This is a big year for him and just transitioning (to tight end). I love his attitude. I love his will to do what he needs to do to have a chance to compete. He'll be in the mix, there's no doubt. Shadell will be in the mix. He's as tough a guy as we've got on the team. He's physical. He's got to get a little more lead in his britches but he's physical. He's progressing. I really think he'll be a guy that will help us.”

Diondre Overton

“He's just a young Bambi running around out there. He's so much better than he was. He's gotten some experience. The practicing every day. He's had some really good players in front of him with Deon Cain and Mike Williams, but him learning from those guys and that example being set for him every day. He's a tough kid, too. He was a basketball guy and he's kind of like Nuk (Hopkins), who as a freshman was a basketball guy out there, but eventually turned into a dang heck of a football player. I think Diondre has tremendous upside. He's just got to continue to develop physically and technically with his understanding of what he's doing at the position. He's done a heck of a job.”

Gage Cervenka

“Gage is a pig in mud. He's right where he needs to be. You'd have a hard time going out and signing a better guy. He's a football player. He has taken to it. He's learning what to do. He's learning three positions. He's a definite center/guard. He's worked every day. Thomas Austin has done a great job. I can't say enough about Thomas Austin and the job that he's done with all of our linemen, but in particular with Gage and helping him become a center and learn how to snap, so he can have that versatility. I'm really pleased with his development. He's just a redshirt freshman that got a little bit of experience and I think he sees that he's got an opportunity to help this team.”

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