Ray-Ray McCloud has a banged up hand that is keeping him from playing offense early on during fall camp, but he isn’t just watching his teammates practice from the sideline.
Instead, McCloud is spending time working at defensive back. He could continue to work there in practice once fully recovered and could spend time playing defense this season if needed.
“We’re just trying to continue to use him in a lot of different ways. We’ve sent him over and he’s done some backpedaling, and then he’d come back and run routes. He can’t catch the ball right now, but he can get over there and cover,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “It’s been fun watching him because he’s probably one of those rare guys that if you needed him, he could probably play either side of the ball.”
Swinney referenced former Clemson receiver Adam Humphries, who is currently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when describing how the Tigers could use McCloud.
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Humphries spent time in practice playing defensive back and appeared in a game playing cornerback.
Swinney said it will depend on how other defensive backs perform and how Clemson’s depth at receiver develops as to how much time McCloud will spend playing defense.
“We’re not trying to just play him to play him, but if he was better than somebody over there and allowed us to have a little more flexibility, I wouldn’t hesitate if he could do it,” Swinney said.
Tigers co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jeff Scott said he has no problem with McCloud working at cornerback.
Scott added that McCloud also spent time at defensive back during summer workouts.
“We’re team players,” Scott said. “Hearing from the guys, the wide outs said he did a great job playing against our wide outs (this summer). They had a good time with that. … He’s got great feet. There’s not many guys that could help you on both sides. That’s hard in this day’s game with everything going on and how complex the offenses and defenses are, but he’s one of those guys that does have that skill set.”
Some schools saw that skill set in McCloud coming out of high school.
McCloud was rated as one of the top 100 players in the country by recruiting services coming out of Sickles High in Tampa, Fla., and while Clemson signed him to play receiver, others wanted him as a defensive back.
“When you have really good depth at the receiver position, it can allow you to let a guy like that go over there for a few plays here and there. If he can help us over there, we’ll definitely support it,” Scott said. “I think Alabama and Florida and a few schools recruited him primarily at corner. We really wanted him playing wide out, and I think that’s one of the reasons he was attracted to Clemson.”