Swinney pleased with first football practice

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker made several nice throws during the practice. (Photos: fotoman)

CLEMSON – Finally. Football season has arrived.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and the 2010 Clemson Tigers went through the first practice of the preseason Tuesday evening, with Swinney putting his charges through a 2 ½ hour workout at the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center.

The Tigers worked out in helmets and shorts in what was the first of 29 preseason practices before the season opener against North Texas on September 4 at 3:30 PM.

Members of the media were allowed to watch the first 30 minutes of practice, and the practice fields were in great shape, a point that Swinney was quick to point out after practice.

“I just want to say thank you to K.C. Bell and Mike Echols, the two landscape guys we have,” Swinney said. “We have a tremendous practice facility, and the grass was in incredible shape. Everything was first class. K.C. and the staff work hard to provide us with a great service, and the field right now is the best it’s been since I’ve been here. When you step on a field like that you feel like first class.”

Swinney said that Tuesday was the “best day of the year” and was happy to get back to work.

“This is the best day of the year right here,” he said. “I get back to what I love. I love to be out on that field. I love being out there seeing the coaches get after somebody. I love thinking as I am watching practice. It’s fun. I am just glad to be back on a normal, grinding routine. It’s home sweet home for me.”

Swinney said the practice was a typical first practice, but overall he was pleased with what he saw.

“I saw a lot of progress since we last practiced in April,” Swinney said. “You could see they worked hard on their own over the summer. If you are going to be a good team you have to make progress between the end of spring practice and the start of fall practice.

“I could see that in players like Tajh Boyd. You could see from what he did today that he has made progress. He was way more confident and way more poised. The game has slowed down for him thanks to the work he put in over the summer. I saw that from a lot of veteran players today. We were able to install a lot more today, and there were fewer busts than there were this time last fall, which shows we are a smarter football team.”

Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker made several nice throws during the practice, and the head coach said he was happy to see No. 11 back out on the practice field.

“He amazes me at what he does from a mental standpoint,” Swinney said. “He made some typical KP throws that make you smile. He did show some rust, but he had an outstanding day. It was good to see how excited the other offensive and defensive players were to have him back. While he was not here this summer, they know he was not off sipping cocktails on an island.

“They saw him play for our baseball team on TV, working hard for that team. He went straight from the bowl game to the batting cage without a break. You could see he was refreshed today and ready to play some football.”

There were 19 freshmen who took part in the practice, and while Swinney said it was too early to tell if anyone of the 19 could make an impact this season, he did say that DeAndre Hopkins reminded him of a former Alabama wide receiver.

“Hopkins has got some mitts on him, he can catch the football,” Swinney said. “It is just a very natural thing for him. I am going to get to see what a guy with hands like I had with better feet and speed can do. I haven’t seen hands like that since ole No. 88 was playing.

“But they are an impressive group. They do have a lot to learn. They are in good physical condition and will make a contribution as a group this year. It is just the first practice so it is too early to single anyone out, but overall I was impressed.”

* Swinney said after practice that Tyler Fowler, a walk-on offensive lineman from Canon, GA, was given a scholarship for this fall.

* The only player who missed practice due to injury was junior offensive guard Wilson Norris, who suffered a torn ACL in spring practice last March. He will be out until at least November.

* Two players missed the practice to take a summer school exam, starting tackle Landon Walker and wide receiver Brandon Clear.

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