Tre Lamar was listed as the heaviest linebacker on Clemson’s depth chart in 2016, weighing 240 pounds.
The Georgia product recorded 22 tackles last season in 102 snaps and entered the offseason ready to work hard to earn a bigger role for the Tigers in 2017.
In order to do that Lamar believed he needed to get faster, but instead of dropping weight he added muscle and the speed came along with it. Lamar is up to 250 pounds as Clemson goes through fall camp in preparation to open the season against Kent State on Sept. 2. And he hasn’t lost a step. He’s gained one.
“When I was 250 I thought I might be a little heavy, but I run better than I did at 235,” he said.
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In addition to being in better shape, Lamar also has made strides from a mental standpoint.
He recorded four tackles and a sack in Clemson’s season opener at Auburn last season and saw action in all 15 of the Tigers’ games. The more he played the more the game has slowed down for him.
“I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress… I feel like my foot work’s improved. I feel like just my recognition has improved a lot. Just my confidence on the field as a whole,” Lamar said. “Just knowing what I have to do and knowing that my job affects other people’s jobs and how that kind of works. It’s all kind of melting together.”
Lamar arrived at Clemson as one of the top linebacker recruits in the country and had big plans in Year 1. He did not accomplish all of his personal goals his first year but believes he can in 2017.
Lamar is battling with redshirt sophomore Chad Smith for the starting Mike linebacker job.
“The size of the playbook, the speed. There’s so many differences (from high school). But now that I’ve been here for about a year and a half I’m getting used to it,” Lamar said.
Redshirt senior Dorian O’Daniel, the leader of Clemson’s linebacker corps, can see a noticeable difference in Lamar.
“He’s made up his mind. Tre, he’s made big strides, even since the spring,” O’Daniel said. “He’s big. He’s focused. He’s confident. All of that comes together. I’ve seen a lot of improvement from Tre.”
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Lamar is “strong, physical. He looks like a creature out there at Mike backer. Instantly you look at a guy like that and you think he plays d-end because you don’t expect the athleticism from a guy like that. He’s more confident, more mature, so much more knowledgeable.”