Show and Tell


by - Senior Writer -
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Richard Yeargin has turned a corner in his development
Richard Yeargin has turned a corner in his development

CLEMSON – Just before head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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ended his pre-fall camp press conference last Tuesday afternoon in the WestZone, he told the assembled media that he was relaxing his rules on practice for a few days – the media could watch entire practices for the first week.

It turned into an extended version of Show and Tell as Swinney showed off the 2015 version of the Tigers, allowing the media to tell what they saw after each practice.

Swinney’s deviation from the norm – he has allowed the media to watch the first 30 minutes of two or three selected fall or spring practices each year – came as quite a shock. Seeing the talent on hand didn’t come as big of a shock, but it was eye-opening.

The news isn’t all candy canes and rainbows – this team has holes to fill when it comes to depth on defense, there are HUGE questions when it comes to the kicking game. There are, as always it seems, questions about the offensive line. Add in the continued worry that quarterback Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 205
Gainesville, GA

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can stay healthy, and I’ve said all along I think this is a 10-2 type of football team.

I also think this team could be better than that, especially after watching practice this week. I get it - it was the first week of practice, and everybody looks good in shorts and helmets. But the Tigers graduated to shells and full pads by week’s end, and there is no mistaking that this is a talented, fast and athletic football team.

Walking into the Georgia Dome in 2008, I looked at Alabama’s football team during pregame warm-ups and then looked over at the Tigers. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the two football teams just looked different, and it showed on the scoreboard.

Fast forward a couple of years and I walked off the field after the first few practices in 2012 thinking that this program was headed in the right direction. I’ve now been on the field with Ohio St., Florida St., LSU, and Oklahoma – traditionally some of the nation’s elite programs – and Clemson has joined the ranks of those teams with elite talent.

On offense, we got to watch Watson throw to projected starters Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
So. Wide Receiver
#3 5-10, 190
Oldsmar, FL

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, Mike WilliamsMike Williams
Jr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-4, 210
Vance, SC

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, and Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Gr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-2, 205
Moore, SC

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. The second team was whistled in and redshirt freshman Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-2, 195
Durham, NC

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gave us the “wow” factor. Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#5 5-11, 175
Charlotte, NC

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still battles inconsistency, but the talent is there. Freshman Ray-Ray McCloudRay-Ray McCloud
Fr. Wide Receiver
#34 5-9, 175
Land O' Lakes, FL

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reminded us all why the coaches are so excited. Then the third team was whistled in and here comes Deon CainDeon Cain
Fr. Wide Receiver
#8 6-1, 190
Tampa, FL

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. Cain is still learning to play receiver after spending most of his high school career as a quarterback, but still made several highlight reel plays.

The running back group is deep and talented, and I can’t wait to see what Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 205
Loganville, GA

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and Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 215
Elberton, GA

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have in store for us in 2015. C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Sr. Running Back
#21 5-10, 200
Clemson, SC

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looks like he is running with a purpose, and Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
So. Running Back
#26 5-9, 215
Thomasville, GA

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shows no ill effects from his knee injury. C.J. Fuller is a wrecking ball with speed.

Tight end was – to say the least – disappointing last season. We talked to Stanton SeckingerStanton Seckinger
Gr. Tight End
#81 6-5, 240
Isle of Palms, SC

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and Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
Jr. Tight End
#16 6-5, 250
Navarre, FL

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after Friday’s practice, however, and they told us that each one of the tight ends played hurt last season. Seckinger had a ligament tear early in the year and played through the pain, and the rest of the injuries are well-documented. Those two are healthy, Milan RichardMilan Richard
RS Fr. Tight End
#80 6-2, 245
Savannah, GA

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is a specimen, Cannon SmithCannon Smith
RS Fr. Tight End
#84 6-4, 240
Columbia, SC

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is one of the bigger tight ends in college football and Jay Jay McCulloughJay Jay McCullough
RS Jr. Tight End
#89 6-3, 248
Fort Mill, SC

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looks like an NFL tight end. That doesn’t even take into account freshman Garrett WilliamsGarrett Williams
Fr. Tight End
#44 6-4, 225
Orlando, FL

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. We asked Seckinger and Leggett about Williams, and they both broke into big grins and called the Florida native a future superstar.

The offensive line? It lacks experience, but the return of Jay GuillermoJay Guillermo
RS Jr. Center
#57 6-3, 310
Maryville, TN

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has been a big boost this week. Youngsters like Justin FalcinelliJustin Falcinelli
RS Fr. Offensive Tackle
#50 6-3, 305
Middleton, MD

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, Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Line
#75 6-6, 270
Sugar Hill, GA

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, Noah GreenNoah Green
Fr. Offensive Line
#71 6-5, 275
Boiling Springs, SC

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, Taylor HearnTaylor Hearn
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#51 6-4, 325
Williston, SC

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, Jake FruhmorgenJake Fruhmorgen
Fr. Offensive Line
#63 6-5, 285
Tampa, FL

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and Zach GiellaZach Giella
Fr. Offensive Line
#77 6-5, 275
Augusta, GA

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have all had their moments this week and I think Robbie CaldwellRobbie Caldwell
Assistant Coach / Offensive Line
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believes he has a solid foundation to work with. But here’s why I am excited about this group more than I have been about lines in the past – this group just looks more athletic and agile. Some of the starters over the last few seasons have just been bigger bodies that don’t move. This group can move.

Defensively? I was blown away. Clelin FerrellClelin Ferrell
Fr. Defensive End
#99 6-5, 220
Richmond, VA

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, Austin BryantAustin Bryant
Fr. Defensive End
#91 6-4, 250
Pavo, GA

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, Christian WilkinsChristian Wilkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#42 6-5, 305
Longmeadow, CT

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, Richard YearginRichard Yeargin
RS Fr. Defensive End
#49 6-4, 225
Lauderdale Lakes, FL

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, Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-3, 295
Honolulu, HI

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, Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 295
Mooresboro, NC

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, Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Jr. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 269
Central, SC

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, Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
Taylors, SC

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, Chris RegisterChris Register
RS Fr. Outside Linebacker
#45 6-2, 245
Browns Summit, NC

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, Albert HugginsAlbert Huggins
Fr. Defensive Line
#67 6-3, 280
Orangeburg, SC

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, D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Defensive Tackle (2012 - 2015)
#48 6-2, 325
Greensboro, NC

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, Jabril RobinsonJabril Robinson
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-3, 255
Leland, NC

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, Sterling JohnsonSterling Johnson
Fr. Defensive Line
#93 6-5, 275
Clayton, NC

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and Gage CervenkaGage Cervenka
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#95 6-3, 275
Greenwood, SC

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have all taken turns impressing this week.

The one player that stood out to me was Yeargin, the redshirt freshman defensive end out of Florida. Yeargin is flat out explosive, and he showed that explosiveness by running over, through and around offensive linemen this week. I asked right tackle Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-5, 290
Lake Waccamaw, NC

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which one of the youngsters had caught his attention, and he mentioned Yeargin right off the bat. Gore said that Yeargin has Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
Defensive End (2010 - 2014)
#3 6-2, 236
Adairsville, GA

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’s ability but with a bigger body.

Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Def. Coordinator / Linebackers
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has plenty of talent to work with – B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS Sr. Linebacker
#44 6-0, 240
Lamar, SC

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enters his senior season as the unquestioned leader of that group. Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
Jr. Outside Linebacker
#10 6-0, 235
Anderson, SC

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finally gets his chance to start. There are options galore at the strongside spot with Dorian O’Daniel, T.J. BurrellT.J. Burrell
RS Jr. Linebacker
#41 5-11, 215
Goose Creek, SC

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, Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
Safety (2012 - 2015)
#11 6-0, 210
Tallahassee, FL

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and Korrin WigginsKorrin Wiggins
Jr. Defensive Back
#12 5-11, 195
Durham, NC

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. Jalen WilliamsJalen Williams
Fr. Linebacker
#30 6-0, 215
Columbia, SC

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looks like a future playmaker in the middle. Korie RogersKorie Rogers
RS Fr. Outside Linebacker
#43 6-2, 235
Buford, GA

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and Kendall JosephKendall Joseph
RS Fr. Linebacker
#34 5-11, 225
Belton, SC

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and Chad SmithChad Smith
Fr. Linebacker
#35 6-3, 215
Sterling, VA

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are just beginning to tap into their talent.

It’s also been a pleasure watching the secondary go to work this week against the Tigers’ great receivers. Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
Jr. Safety
#1 6-4, 210
Fort Myers, FL

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and T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 205
Sylacauga, AL

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and Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS So. Cornerback
#2 5-10, 190
Immokalee, FL

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don’t like to lose any battle. Mark FieldsMark Fields
Fr. Cornerback
#24 5-10, 185
Cornelius, NC

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has shown he will earn playing time this season. Jadar JohnsonJadar Johnson
Jr. Defensive Back
#18 6-0, 200
Orangeburg, SC

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has shown a spark. Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
Jr. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 195
Beech Island, SC

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and Ryan CarterRyan Carter
RS So. Cornerback
#31 5-9, 180
Grayson, GA

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have battled for the starting spot opposite Alexander. Marcus EdmondMarcus Edmond
RS So. Cornerback
#29 5-11, 170
Hopkins, SC

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and Adrian BakerAdrian Baker
RS So. Cornerback
#21 5-11, 180
Hallandale, FL

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have had their moments.

This group doesn’t take a play off, and there are youngsters like Tanner MuseTanner Muse
Fr. Linebacker
#19 6-4, 205
Belmont, NC

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and Van SmithVan Smith
Fr. Defensive Back
#23 6-2, 170
Cornelius, NC

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waiting in the wings.

It’s August. It’s early. Talent doesn’t always equate to wins. Injuries happen. Those are all facts, and we still don’t know how the 2015 season will end. But if this week’s Show and Tell session is any indication the here and now is bright. The future is bright.

This team just looks different.

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