Spring practice insider: Thursday morning news and notes
|Thursday, March 1, 2018, 8:18 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Despite being chock full of veterans, there will be plenty of competition during Clemson’s 15 spring practices.
They return 21 seniors and 17 starters off a squad that made it to the College Football Playoff last year, but head coach Dabo Swinney said there will be enough competition to go around at every position.
“Everybody is ready to get back going. The coaches are no different. We put in a lot of time and work into our quality control, our self-study,” Swinney said before practice kicked off Tuesday. “We'll continue all of that through spring, post-spring, and summer. Then, we'll look at areas we need to improve as coaches. But a lot of good things. When you're a playoff time, there are a long of good things, but there are a lot of areas we can improve. A lot of things we set out to do last year, I think we accomplished, so we've got some things we can build on there. Definitely, some areas that we've got to make some strides.
“We've got a lot of bodies to work so there will be a lot of competition. I think it's important to give everybody an opportunity to compete, give everybody an opportunity to show that they have ownership of their position, demonstrate that they can go and get the job. That's what we try to do in the spring. We have four quarterbacks and we're going to try to make sure those guys get a ton of reps and go from there.”
As expected, Kelly Bryant will be the starter at quarterback, but Swinney said he has to prove himself every day on and off the field.
“We've got a starting point. It's Kelly's job to prove that he's the best guy every day,” Swinney said. “He's got to go prove himself every single day. It will all work itself out. All of those guys can win. All of those guys have bright futures.
“(Trevor Lawrence has) the same opportunity that everybody else has. Come to practice, put him to work. Everything counts. The best guy plays. Get in line and go to work. Everybody is going to have the same opportunity. I think we've got four special players, four talented guys.”
While there aren’t too many question marks on the 2018 squad, Swinney took time to challenge the wide receiver corps.
“I'm looking for Diondre Overton and Tee Higgins to take that next step,” he said. “I don't really have any questions about them. I think they're right on schedule to be great players but I want to see them take that step. Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell, same thing. It's time for Cornell to take the governor off a little bit and really cut it loose like I know he's capable of. Amari, he made great strides last year.”
*Swinney said that Sean Pollard would get a look at right guard.
“We're going to start off with Sean Pollard at right guard to try to get our best five on the field right out of the gate.”
*Clelin Ferrell said once he made his decision about returning to school, he called Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
"I said, 'Coach, I am gonna go.' He said, 'What? Really man?' And i was like, 'Yeah, I am gonna go.' And he said, 'Ok.' And I said, 'I am going to back to school.' He was telling me that was great and I got him. And then I called Coach Venables, and my former defensive line coach (Marion Hobby) and Coach Bates."
Ferrell said defensive tackle Christian Wilkins knew he was returning to Clemson long before he announced. He said that Wilkins, who announced his return as the deadline approached, is not the type of person to let something go down to the last minute.
*Junior running back Tavien Feaster said he hopes to play closer to 215 pounds this year. Last year he played at about 220 and said it wasn’t a good 220, so he hopes that slimming down a little bit will help his quickness and explosiveness.
*Kendall Joseph said he came back for his senior season because he has another level to play at.
When asked if there was a sense of unfinished business from the way things ended last season, Joseph said, ‘110-percent.’