The Boys are Back in Town: Spring practice quick hits
|Monday, February 29, 2016, 6:34 PM-|
CLEMSON - The Clemson football team returned to the practice fields Monday afternoon as The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy and Michael Jackson’s Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’ emanated from the loudspeakers. The boys are indeed back in town as spring practice for the 2016 season started Monday.
It is interesting to note – for those who think it’s been an eternity without football – that because of the leap year’s extra day and camp starting earlier than normal that the Tigers have now practiced in seven consecutive months dating back to last August. Once the spring game is over in April the Tigers will have practiced in nine consecutive months. Back in town, indeed.
Let’s get started with the observations:
All eyes were on the newcomers Monday, and that includes massive defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. I walked out onto the field and saw the familiar No. 90 – worn most recently by Shaq Lawson. Instead of seeing Lawson, however, there was a mountain there. Lawrence reportedly checked in at 344 pounds, but the kid can flat out move.
At one point, he was standing next to Christian Wilkins, Scott Pagano and Carlos Watkins and he dwarfed all three. Early reports out of drills have said he is dragging offensive linemen up and down the field, and it’s easy to see why. He moves with an easy fluidity that you just don’t see in a big man. One person in the program laughed when I asked about the possibility of Wilkins and Lawrence side-by-side, and he said, “Imagine Wilkins at defensive end with Lawrence and Watkins or Pagano at tackle and Clelin Ferrell at the other end spot. That might be the biggest defensive line in all of college football.” Good point.
*Rahshaun Smith and Tre Lamar bring height to the linebacker group, along with redshirt Chad Smith. Smith and Lamar – as we’ve mentioned – are absolute physical specimens. But they also have some growing pains they’ll have to endure, which is why it was good to see veteran Ben Boulware take the time to teach them as they went through drills.
*There is a lot to like with offensive linemen Sean Pollard and Tremayne Anchrum. Both have good feet, but you could also tell both were – pardon the cliché – swimming a little upstream today. Both are going to be very good players, and I was pleasantly surprised with Pollard’s size.
*Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told us earlier today that defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney looks like Grady Jarrett, and he was right. Pinckney is a Jarrett clone out there, and if he was wearing Jarrett’s number you might believe Jarrett was back on the team.
*LaSamuel Davis looks the part of a really good athlete, but it’s obvious he needs to put on a little more weight. A summer in the weight room will do wonders for the Bamberg product, but with his long frame and quick twitch he doesn’t need a lot.
*Speaking of Lawrence and Wilkins – one person told me that both players are even better people than they are football players. We already know that about Wilkins, but Lawrence has apparently impressed everyone during his short time on campus.
Clemson lost many of its team leaders from 2015 – Shaq Lawson, B.J. Goodson, Jayron Kearse, Eric Mac Lain and Charone Peake – but from the looks of it Ben Boulware, Jay Guillermo and Carlos Watkins are stepping in nicely.
Guillermo and Watkins were leading warm-ups, while Boulware took time to coach up Tre Lamar and Rahshaun Smith during tackling drills. Boulware went out of his way to teach the two newcomers proper technique and how to do the drills. Deshaun Watson also put his leadership skills on display talking to Tucker Israel after the redshirt freshman missed a throw.
Israel’s arm strength on display
*Speaking of Israel…We were only allowed to watch a couple of periods – and only three of those were the quarterbacks actually throwing – however, Israel’s arm strength is easily seen. He was making long throws look easy and the majority of his passes were on point.
A healthy Choice
I watched the running backs for a few minutes and the first thing I noticed was Adam Choice. He is noticeably thicker and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. This was only the first day of spring practice, but he wasn’t wearing any type of knee brace and was making all of the cuts and runs as the other running backs. Choice was working with the third team during the drills we saw – Wayne Gallman, Tyshon Dye, Choice and C.J. Fuller.
Feaster scouting the competition
2016 running back signee, Tavien Feaster, was on hand for Monday afternoon’s practice. The Spartanburg (SC) native had surgery to repair a torn labrum last week and was wearing a sling. He was watching all of the running backs go through drills.
First team offense
Artavis Scott, Hunter Renfrow, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman and Jordan Leggett were the skill players running with the first team offensive. From left to right, the offensive line was Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn, Jay Guillermo, Maverick Morris and Jake Fruhmorgen.
Watson the student
Deshaun Watson is showing that he is more than just a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback. He’s exemplifying what it means to be a student athlete. The junior quarterback is taking seven classes during the spring semester.
Yellow jersey, green jersey
Safety Korrin Wiggins was in a yellow (no contact) jersey, while Mike Williams was in a green (limited) jersey. Williams moved really, really well and showed no ill effects from his neck injury.