Spring practice begins: Observations from the field


by - Senior Writer -
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Deshaun Watson took part in a few passing drills.

CLEMSON – Football is back. Spring football, anyway.

The familiar sights and sounds of college football were once again seen and heard on Clemson’s campus Monday afternoon as the Tigers held the first of their 2015 spring practices under warm and sunny skies.

As is the usually the case, there were plenty of former players on hand as well as other names of note. The first person I ran into was former quarterback Woody Dantzler. Also on hand and intently watching the offensive lineman was Clemson standout Dan Benish, whose nephew is freshman offensive lineman Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Tackle
#75 6-6, 270
Suwannee, GA

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. Wren head coach Jeff Tate and a couple of his assistants were on hand to watch Kelly BryantKelly Bryant
Fr. Quarterback
#2 6-4, 205
Piedmont, SC

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, and former running back Reggie Merriweather.

Now onto the quick observations, and please remember it was the first practice and they were in shorts.

Quarterbacks

*Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
Fr. Quarterback
#4 6-3, 204
Gainesville, GA

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was a very active participant in practice. He had a brace on his left knee, but he threw the football and then went to exercise with the other injured players when the practice went full speed. It’s early but Watson looks great for someone who had knee surgery just a few weeks ago.

Bryant and Tucker IsraelTucker Israel
Fr. Quarterback
#10 6-0, 195
Orlando, FL

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were front and center, and neither really disappointed. I have wondered about Israel’s arm strength, but it looked more than good enough on the routes I was able to watch. Quarterbacks coach Brandon StreeterBrandon Streeter
Quarterback Coach
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implored Israel to “put it on his chinstrap” when throwing to receivers and Israel was extremely accurate. Bryant is an exception athlete and it showed and he looked like he was pushing 215 pounds.

Punt Return

The punt return team got some work early in practice, and early returners were Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS So. Wide Receiver
#5 6-0, 175
Charlotte, NC

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, Ryan CarterRyan Carter
RS Fr. Cornerback
#31 5-9, 175
Grayson, GA

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, Marcus EdmondMarcus Edmond
RS Fr. Cornerback
#29 5-11, 170
Hopkins, SC

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, Adrien DunnAdrien Dunn
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#82 5-7, 170
Clemson, SC

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and Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS Fr. Cornerback
#2 5-11, 190
Immokalee, FL

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.

Running backs

*Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
Fr. Running Back
#26 5-10, 211
Thomasville, GA

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was also in a knee brace but was jogging around the outside of the field. Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Jr. Running Back
#24 6-1, 199
Jonesboro, AR

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was back at practice in a helmet and looked like he was close to full speed. He was running with a purpose.

Wide receivers

*The first wide receiver that caught my attention was senior Charone PeakeCharone Peake
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 204
Moore, SC

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who looked healthy and comfortable for the first time in almost two years. Peake has had more than his share of injuries and setbacks but he appears to have added a little bit of weight and he was moving around as well as I’ve ever seen him – even making a diving catch during the tempo period.


Mike WilliamsMike Williams
So. Wide Receiver
#7 6-5, 208
Vance, SC

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looks to have picked up right where he left off and added a spinning catch that Schuessler put right on the money during the tempo period.


Redshirt freshman Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-3, 191
Durham, NC

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really jumped out during the warm-ups. To be honest, he looks like a Mike Williams clone – tall and thick. He looks like he’s ready to contribute.

Offensive line

First team offensive line was what you would expect – LT Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Jr. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-7, 285
Brooklyn, NY

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, LG Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#78 6-4, 306
Hope Mills, NC

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, C Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 292
Simpsonville, SC

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, RG Tyrone CrowderTyrone Crowder
RS Fr. Offensive Guard
#55 6-2, 322
Marston, NC

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and RT Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-5, 283
Lake Waccamaw, NC

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. However, redshirt freshman Taylor HearnTaylor Hearn
Fr. Offensive Line
#51 6-3, 305
Williston, SC

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was also getting looks at left guard.

I was told that Hyatt has already broken the 280-pound barrier in the short time he has been on campus and it didn’t take long to realize why he was so highly-rated. Great feet, and I was told by someone else that Hyatt and Fruhmorgen will push each other. Fruhmorgen also looks the part, and it’s obvious that the big and athletic offensive linemen the Tigers have been looking for are here. The two worked together in several drills.

Tight end

Milan RichardMilan Richard
Fr. Tight End
#80 6-3, 243
Savannah, GA

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is listed at 6-2, 245 but looks bigger. In fact, he was standing next to Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
So. Tight End
#16 6-5, 251
Navarre, FL

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and the two were very similar. I wish we could have stayed to watch them catch the football, but maybe later in the spring. Cannon SmithCannon Smith
Fr. Tight End
#84 6-5, 235
Columbia, SC

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also caught my eye, and he looks solid.

Linebackers

One bystander looked at Clemson’s linebackers and said, ‘That is a group of physical specimens.’ I would have to agree. Chad SmithChad Smith
Fr. Outside Linebacker
# 6-4, 215
Sterling, VA

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is the one I wanted to watch and he didn’t disappoint. He drew the praise of the coaches several times during the early drills.

Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
So. Outside Linebacker
#10 5-11, 235
Anderson, SC

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, interestingly enough, was working with the WILL linebackers, along with Dorian O'DanielDorian O'Daniel
RS Fr. Linebacker
#6 6-1, 217
Olney, MD

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, Korie RogersKorie Rogers
Fr. Outside Linebacker
#43 6-2, 242
Buford, GA

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

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, T.J. BurrellT.J. Burrell
RS So. Linebacker
#41 5-11, 215
Goose Creek, SC

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and J.D. DavisJ.D. Davis
Fr. Linebacker
#33 6-2, 215
Central, SC

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. At MIKE? B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS Jr. Linebacker
#44 6-1, 240
Lamar, SC

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, Chris RegisterChris Register
Fr. Outside Linebacker
#45 6-4, 242
Greensboro, NC

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, Kendall JosephKendall Joseph
Fr. Linebacker
#34 5-11, 230
Belton, SC

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, Chad Smith, and Judah DavisJudah Davis
Fr. Linebacker
#36 6-2, 215
Central, SC

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.

Secondary

I had finally made it over to the secondary when the whistle sounded for the media to leave, but nickel Korrin WigginsKorrin Wiggins
So. Defensive Back
#12 5-11, 190
Durham, NC

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was working with the safeties along with freshman Van SmithVan Smith
Fr. Defensive Back
#23 6-0, 170
Charlotte, NC

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.

Defensive Ends

We watched the defensive ends go through bag drills and rush drills and it was evident where Clemson’s speed rush will come from in 2015….Richard Yeargin had the burst and quickness that Clemson lost when Vic Beasley graduated. Shaq Lawson moved throw the bags effortlessly and Kevin Dodd looks like he has bulked up and will be a run-stopping machine. Freshman Albert Huggins quickly jumped off the page with his size, speed and athleticism. I’m not sure defensive ends coach Marion Hobby will be able to keep him off the field.

Injuries

*Defensive tackle D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-2, 322
Greensboro, NC

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practiced in a green jersey, while Choice and tight end D.J Greenlee worked with strength coach Larry Greenlee.


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