Spring Game: Players and Things To Watch


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Most of the attention will be on the freshman quarterbacks during Saturday's spring game
Most of the attention will be on the freshman quarterbacks during Saturday's spring game

Clemson’s annual Orange-White Game will kickoff Saturday in Death Valley, a game that won’t be televised due to the construction in and around the stadium.

Construction will be the name of the game Saturday as Clemson’s coaching staff tries to replace eight starters on defense and three starters on the offensive line. Spring games aren’t necessarily the best way to try and evaluate talent – even head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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admitted Wednesday that only about 50% of Clemson’s normal schemes will be used – but it is a chance to take an extended first look at some of the younger players that could help shape the Tigers’ 2015 season.

With that in mind, here are some players to watch Saturday, with the caveat that we already know what we’re gonna get out of veteran talent like B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS Sr. Linebacker
#44 6-0, 240
Lamar, SC

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, Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
Jr. Outside Linebacker
#10 6-0, 235
Anderson, SC

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, Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
Jr. Safety
#20 6-4, 210
Fort Myers, FL

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and others.

QUARTERBACKS

Veteran Nick SchuesslerNick Schuessler
RS Jr. Quarterback
#12 6-3, 195
Grayson, GA

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has had an outstanding spring, but most eyes will be on freshmen Tucker IsraelTucker Israel
Fr. Quarterback
#10 5-11, 190
Orlando, FL

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and Kelly BryantKelly Bryant
Fr. Quarterback
#2 6-4, 205
Calhoun Falls, SC

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. Again, the spring game might not be the best gauge of the difference between the quarterbacks because a quarterback is deemed “down” after simply being touched by a defender. That doesn’t fully utilize Bryant’s scrambling gifts, but it will give us an idea of where they stand throwing the football and reading defenses.

RUNNING BACKS

Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 205
Loganville, GA

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looks bigger and more confident this spring, and while I am certain he will get his share of carries on Saturday there are a few players that should get extended looks – Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Running Back (2012 - 2015)
#24 6-0, 200
Jonesboro, AR

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is coming off an injury, Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 215
Elberton, GA

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is working himself back into shape and freshman C.J. FullerC.J. Fuller
RS Fr. Running Back
#27 5-9, 215
Easley, SC

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has opened eyes this spring. Can Fuller make a case for playing time in the fall?

WIDE RECEIVERS

I will be curious to see Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Gr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-2, 205
Moore, SC

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and how he moves, but the real reason for watching will be to see redshirt freshman Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-2, 195
Durham, NC

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, true freshman Shadell Bell and walk-on Hunter RenfrowHunter Renfrow
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#35 5-10, 170
Myrtle Beach, SC

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. Swinney has raved about Renfrow this spring, but he’s been known to go over the top about wide receivers that remind him of Dabo Swinney.

TIGHT ENDS

If Milan RichardMilan Richard
RS Fr. Tight End
#80 6-2, 245
Savannah, GA

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was healthy, he would be the priority. As it is, we still get to take a gander at Clemson legacy Cannon SmithCannon Smith
RS Fr. Tight End
#84 6-4, 240
Columbia, SC

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. I’ve watched Smith the few times we’ve been allowed at practice this spring, and he already looks like a force in the blocking game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Sure, we all want to see the four freshmen – 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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, Jake FruhmorgenJake Fruhmorgen
Fr. Offensive Line
#63 6-5, 285
Tampa, FL

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and Zach Giella. I want to watch their run blocking and their pass sets and see how they handle some of those big old defensive linemen Venables is going to throw at them. But just as important are redshirt freshmen Justin FalcinelliJustin Falcinelli
RS Fr. Offensive Tackle
#50 6-3, 305
Middleton, MD

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

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and sophomore Maverick MorrisMaverick Morris
RS So. Offensive Line
#69 6-4, 295
Broxton, GA

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. The guess here is that – including Morris – at least five of those cats will play this fall. Maybe all seven. This will be our first good look at most of those guys.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

It’s time to see if Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
Taylors, SC

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has what it takes to be a starter and if he can provide a consistent pass rush. Beyond Dodd, however, we need to see if veterans like Ebenezer OgundekoEbenezer Ogundeko
RS So. Defensive End
#1 6-3, 250
Brooklyn, NY

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and Martin AikenMartin Aiken
RS Jr. Defensive End
#53 6-2, 255
Smoaks, SC

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have taken those next steps because youngsters like Albert HugginsAlbert Huggins
Fr. Defensive Line
#67 6-3, 280
Orangeburg, SC

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

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

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are waiting in the wings. Prior to camp, I thought Huggins would be one to keep an eye on, but Yeargin has impressed the heck out of me at each practice. Register is still learning the nuances of the position after recently moving from linebacker.

DEFENISVE TACKLES

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

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

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can do so Saturday will be about Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-3, 295
Honolulu, HI

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

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. Pagano has the makeup and the physical tools to be dominant in the trenches, and the fact that he hails from Hawaii has added to his mystique. He has toiled behind some elite talent in Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Defensive Tackle (2011 - 2014)
#50 6-0, 290
Conyers, GA

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, Joshua Watson and DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Defensive Tackle (2011 - 2014)
#99 6-1, 295
Central, SC

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but is poised to see significant snaps this season. He is always one of the last to leave practice and has shown he isn’t afraid to put in the work. Is he ready?

LINEBACKERS

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

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, 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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are all younger players who have yet to take a snap as Tigers and they will get to see plenty of action Saturday. However, don’t forget that Dorian O’Daniel is still learning the position and could be in line to see significant snaps this season. Another one to watch – impress your friends with your knowledge of football – is Blythewood’s Jalen WilliamsJalen Williams
Fr. Linebacker
#30 6-0, 215
Columbia, SC

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. This kid is a wrecking ball and will see action somewhere very soon.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Yes, we want to see T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 205
Sylacauga, AL

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at the safety spot. But there is a big-time competition going on at the corner spot opposite Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS So. Cornerback
#2 5-10, 190
Immokalee, FL

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, a competition that includes Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
Jr. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 195
Beech Island, SC

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

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, 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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. Can one of those players make a move in the spring and take that momentum into the summer? They might need to……..4-star corner Mark FieldsMark Fields
Fr. Cornerback
# 5-10, 185
Cornelius, NC

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arrives in June and he will push for a spot once he arrives.

SPECIAL TEAMS

There have been protection issues on field goals in the spring, so it will be good to see if those have been fixed. The Tigers have a new long-snapper in Jim BrownJim Brown
RS Sr. Long Snapper
#51 6-4, 230
Walterboro, SC

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and a new punter in Andy TeasdallAndy Teasdall
RS Jr. Punter
#95 5-11, 185
Winston-Salem, NC

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. Who will handle the kickoffs? Are the return teams any better?

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