Spring Practice Friday Insider: Rain doesn't dampen Venables' intensity

Spring Practice Friday Insider: Rain doesn't dampen Venables' intensity

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The lightning sirens went off a few minutes before Friday’s practice, and a few minutes later the skies opened up with yet another thunderstorm. The rain provided an almost deafening cacophony on the metal roof of the indoor practice facility, making it hard to hear.

Except for Brent Venables. Brent Venables could still be heard.

Clemson’s defensive coordinator has a tough task in replacing a bevy of talented players, and the start of practice was all about the basics as Venables put the defense through tackling drills. One standout was linebacker Shaq Smith.

Head coach Dabo Swinney told us Wednesday that Smith is one of the players he will look to as a team leader, and Smith’s leadership was on display as many of the younger players went through the drills. Smith talks and cajoles and he moves through the drills with the practiced ease of a savvy veteran.

It’s just shorts and helmets, but some of the standouts are:

Defensive end KJ Henry is wearing No. 1 this season, and he’s another player that doesn’t mind talking. He’s always smiling, but when it’s time to work he is very serious. Power Hour did Henry a lot of good, and he’ll play a lot.

However, defensive end Justin Foster looks and acts the part of a starter. He was flying through the tackling drills, and he’s a different looking defensive end than Clemson has had in a while. He looks thicker than Austin Bryant or Clelin Ferrell but that size doesn’t affect his speed. He still gets where he wants to go in a hurry.

*I had someone tell me that they heard quarterback Taisun Phommachanh reminds people of Kelly Bryant. I can see that, but’s already a more polished passer than Bryant was his freshman season. He threw one seam route – it covered about 40 yards – that fairly whistled. Kid as no-doubt arm talent.

*BT Potter ran out as the first-team kicker with first-team holder Will Swinney. Potter nailed several short field goals before giving way to Steven Sawicki. Like last season, punter Will Spiers is the second-team holder and Drew Swinney is the third-team holder.

*Sean Pollard was back at center, and it’s obvious that his time at guard helps him at the center spot when it comes time to pull. Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell ran his group through several plays, and Pollard shows a knack for pulling.

Gage Cervenka was back at right guard, Tremayne Anchrum at right tackle, John Simpson at left guard, and Jackson Carman at left tackle.

The second team offensive line had Blake Vinson at left tackle, Matt Bockhorst at left guard, Zach Giella at center, Cade Stewart at right guard, and Chandler Reeves at right tackle.

*It looked like Logan Cash was working with the defensive ends, while Ruke Orhorhoro and Etinosa Rueben worked with the defensive tackles.

*2019 safety signee Jalyn Phillips and 2019 tight end signee Davis Allen were on hand to watch the proceedings.

*Lannden Zanders is notable for his look – he looks like Troy Polamalu with his hair coming out from under his helmet – but he’s smooth. Really smooth.

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