A young roster could very well be seen as a liability in spring ball. Not so far this March, says Clemson’s coach.
“I told the team today I’m very encouraged after two days,” Dabo Swinney said Wednesday night. “I really like the tempo, the energy that we’ve had at practice.
“To be honest with you – as many young guys – we’re repping three groups on both sides trying to get everybody an opportunity: the tempo has been tremendous the first two days.
“The energy, the enthusiasm. All that. We’ve got some hunger out there – a hunger that is kind of fresh and that’s the only way I know how to describe it.”
The roster turnover is no more evident recently than this week with the outgoing seniors returning for Pro Day on Thursday.
“We’re losing a lot of experience and really good players,” said Swinney. “Got reminded by that seeing all of last year’s seniors around here (for Pro Day). ‘Well, that guy played a lot of snaps.’ There’s a hunger and innocence and energy that comes with those young guys. I like that. It creates – especially when they’re the right kind of guys.
“There’s a talented group of young players on this team. Not just the true freshman that just got here – the redshirts, redshirt sophomores. It’s been a good couple days. We have a long way to go. I can tell that they’re studying because we’re not having to stop practice.
“You’re talking about two quarterbacks that don’t know anything and we’re able to keep the momentum of practice going like we would hope to with some veteran guys. I’m very encouraged about what I’m seeing so far.”
They start putting on pads Friday with four practices before a spring break, where Swinney expects to see some change.
One of the breakout performers so far is redshirt junior quarterback Nick Schuessler, Swinney said.
“I love, love, love the personnel we have,” Swinney said. “As far as calling people out, let me say this: Nick Schuessler has come to work these first two days. We called him ‘Sleepy Schuessler’ around here for forever and he’s awake now. It’s really impressive. He’s had as good a team skelly, team pass period as I’ve seen around here in a long time at quarterback. It’s so encouraging to see that. That’s awesome to see that.
“The guy that’s been that backup and how he’s getting the chance. To see him do that is really good with those other veteran guys.”
The first team is still a work-in-progress, but that upper-echelon is also impressing Swinney.
“Our first guys on both sides look the part getting off the bus,” he said. “They can hold their own.”