OFFENSIVE RIGHT TACKLE
Redshirt sophomore Gifford Timothy survived spring atop the depth chart, but this one could go to the final days of preseason camp with Joe Gore and Shaq Anthony and Isaiah Battle. “Three freshmen we’re going to have to factor in somewhere,” coach Dabo Swinney said.
Gore transitioned from defensive end coming off a knee injury last November. Line coach Robbie Caldwell said Battle is “tough, physical, a tremendous athlete.” “He’s going to be a giant one of these days,” Swinney said of Battle.
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Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward and Lateek Townsend are to the defense what classmates Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant are to the offense.
“We haven’t had that dominant guy that everybody in the stands leaves the park talking about,” Swinney said.
“I think we’ve got some guys that have the ability to be just that.”
Swinney said Steward worked without a brace during the summer indicating no lingering effects from October’s season-ending knee injury. “I think he is one of the best players in America,” Swinney said.
Also returning are seniors Corico Wright, who legally changed his name from Hawkins during the offseason, and Jonathan “Tig” Willard. Both were among the most productive tacklers in 2011.
Coach Dan Brooks wished he played Josh Watson, DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett more as freshmen last season. Sophomore Tavaris Barnes could also be in the mix unless he lands at end, where there’s more depth concern.
Brooks said freshmen Carlos Watkins and D.J. Reader are ready to play. Reader benched 400 pounds the other day.
Not that Andre Ellington needs to worry about his job, but his injury history requires a backup plan. Losing Mike Bellamy to academics in May was a blow. Third-year sophomore D.J. Howard and junior Rod McDowell are mostly role players.
Swinney is counting on freshman Zac Brooks should Ellington go down. Ideally they redshirt him, but they don’t see having that luxury.
Swinney and Chad Morris count 14 offensive skill players — six, maybe seven receivers, three tight ends and four backs — chief in their plans. Morris wants to play at a pace that leads the nation in plays from scrimmage. Last season, Clemson snapped the ball 1,055 plays, second in the nation, with 530 rushes and 525 passes.
Clemson needs a lot of plays to get the ball to receivers Sammy Watkins, Nuke Hopkins, Charone Peake, Adam Humphries, Martavis Bryant, Stanton Seckinger and Germone Hopper; tight ends Brandon Ford and Sam Cooper and the backs.