Saturday practice nuggets: McCloud at DB, Rodgers continues to impress
|Saturday, August 5, 2017, 9:22 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Club Med is almost over, and the hard days of fall practice are ahead.
The Clemson football team completed its third August practice Saturday, will take a day off Sunday, go through a light practice Monday and then settle into the rigors of preparation beginning Tuesday.
“We've had three really good days. I am very encouraged with what I've seen,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I am very encouraged with what I've seen and I'm not disappointed in anything. Tomorrow (Sunday) is an off day for them, Monday is kind of the last day of Club Med around here, if you will. It's really the last day we can't have them all day because of finals. and then Tuesday we will step fully into camp. We can have them all day, every day, until school starts back.”
Swinney said the freshmen have already made a difference.
“The freshman class is impressive. All of them. An impressive group of young players to add to what we've already got,” Swinney said. “There has been great energy and intensity. Probably more so. Last year we were a very young team, a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and this year we have a lot of sophomores and juniors.”
He then said that the linebackers might be the deepest group on the team.
“This time last year, Tre Lamar, Shaq Smith, Jamie Skalski - they were all just young bucks,” Swinney said. “Now that whole group is completely transformed. That might be the best group on our team, from top to bottom. That is an awesome group of linebackers we have, maybe the best we've had since I've been here. All of them can play.”
The big news was that wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud worked out at defensive back.
“We've used him at both receiver and defensive back, and we're just trying to use him in different ways,” Swinney said. “We had him over there backpedaling, and then we had him running routes. He can't catch the ball right now, but he can get over there and cover. It's been kind of fun watching him because he is one of those rare guys that can play either side of the ball. We are taking advantage of the time with him and seeing what he can do.”
Swinney said the move is something the coaches talked about over the summer, and he said he could see McCloud playing there during the season.
“Depends on how he does. We don't really do anything to waste time but it's something we talked about during the summer. He was kind of open to it,” Swinney said. “He could be a guy that could work nickel, or he could be a corner guy, an emergency guy. We used to use Adam Humphries that way. But Ray-Ray has a little more wherewithal to him and it's natural to him. He's a special talent. If he can't catch we will see if we can continue to get better. If he was better than somebody else over there and gave us a little more flexibility I wouldn't hesitate to put him in.”
*Center Justin Falcinelli said the offensive line group is told by coach Robbie Caldwell that they have a chance to be the best in a long time at Clemson. He then said that former center Jay Guillermo keeps in touch with the group and is more than willing to still answer questions and help when needed.
*Jeff Scott brought his daughter over to interviews, and started out by saying that she was at practice all day and knows just as much about the quarterback competition as he does, which isn’t a lot. Swinney intimated that no one is head right now.
*We spent extensive time talking to defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, and he said that when Dexter Lawrence gained weight after surgery he started calling him Xbox.It’s obvious the two have a great relationship, even though Wilkins said he is the big brother.
Wilkins is below 300 pounds and said he feels quicker and feels like he can play more plays.
*Deon Cain said he wanted to lose weight heading into camp so he would be in good enough shape to run routes for an entire game. He said he knows this is his time, and he’s ready to step up. We’ve also heard that Cain is stepping into the leadership role with the wide receivers.
*Speaking of the receivers, we keep hearing good things about both Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers, but both Scott and Swinney were highly complimentary of Rodgers tonight. Swinney said on more than one occasion that Rodgers just “gets it” and would be used on punt return.
Cornell Powell missed time today with a hamstring pull, and McCloud is still out with his wrist injury, so Rodgers ran with the first group today. Scott said Rodgers is one of the most mature freshmen he’s seen in his eight years at Clemson.