Tony Elliott doesn’t lack confidence, or he wouldn’t have been able to ascend from walk-on wide receiver at Clemson to a productive playing career, earn an engineering degree and eventually return as co-offensive coordinator.
Yet the sheer magnitude of what he faced in his first spring has been enlightening – even while sharing the big picture with Jeff Scott.
“Everybody on the outside, you’re always looking. ‘Oh, I could do that,’ ” Elliott said Monday. “Then you realize it’s a different perspective.
“You realize this is a big task, and it’s not a task for one man.”
Elliott and Scott replaced Chad Morris, the $1.3 Million Dollar Man and the father of the Clemson offense.
In fact, three coaches are fulfilling Chad’s duties, with Brandon Streeter serving as quarterbacks mentor.
“We’re forever grateful to Chad because he brought the nuts and bolts of the offense,” Elliott said. “We’re not worried about being labeled as gurus. We want to put Clemson in the position to be successful. There are going to be some things we’re going to tweak and change, but the nuts and bolts of the offense (are) here.”
Sharing the title shouldn’t be a clash of wills or a battle of egos for Elliott and Scott, who were teammates briefly and remain close friends.
“The lowest (graduate assistant) on the pole has a voice,” Elliott said. “Now, decisions have to be made and everybody has to come to a consensus, but if it puts a young man in a position to be successful, that’s what we’re going to do. It’s not about egos with us; it’s about winning football games.”
Five days into spring practice finds him weighing the progress of an offensive line under construction, the development of the quarterbacks that hope to serve as Deshaun Watson’s first backup and the nurturing of experienced receivers and tight ends. Also, Elliott oversees the running backs, which should be a rewarding and relatively easy task with six in the mix. Elliott – like Dabo Swinney last week – was highly complimentary of redshirt freshman C.J. Fuller who makes six potential options.
“I don’t set expectations and don’t set in my mind how it’s going to play out,” he said. “A lot of times, as coaches, you get surprised.
“I’m preparing them all to be that guy, so I want four or five starting running backs in my room.”
Same goes at quarterback where Watson, if he returns from knee surgery fully healthy, should be the starter and a potential candidate for postseason honors. Elliott said the others will determine the pecking order by how they practice because, other than junior Nick Schussler’s dozen snaps, the others are new to Clemson.
“I tell those guys don’t worry about the depth chart. Go out and be the best you can be. It’s going to fall out and you’re going to get what you earn.”