Clemson Football: Positional battles to watch at fall camp

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Footballer Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney open the 2022 pre-season camp on Friday.

Special for the State

Friday afternoon marks the start of pre-season football camp for Clemson, which is trying to return to the sport’s biggest stage after a 10-3 2021 campaign.

The Tigers finished last season on a six-game winning streak after a 4-3 start, but they also pulled off an impressive streak of six straight ACC championships and six straight college football playoff appearances under the under the direction of longtime coach Dabo Swinney.

“There’s been a lot of talk about football, but now it’s time for action,” Swinney said. “That’s our favorite part… This is a team with veteran experience and veteran leadership. I’m really happy with the summer we had and the way they worked.

Here’s an intro to preseason camp for Clemson, which opens the season against Georgia Tech on Monday, Sept. 5 at Chick-fil-A’s kickoff game in Atlanta.

Program

Clemson’s first day of practice is Friday.

The team will eventually train 25 times. Thanks to an NCAA rule change in the spring, Clemson has 31 days to complete those 25 practices. Before, it was 29 days.

“We have a good camp schedule,” Swinney said. “I love that we have two extra days because really those two extra days give you a chance to give them a bit more time off…they’ve given us 31 days, which allows us to pace ourselves a bit.”

Open practices

Friday marks the first of three practices Clemson is opening to the media in its first two weeks of preseason camp. Media listening periods are for the early parts of Clemson practices and will primarily consist of individual exercises.

Health

After an injury-plagued 2021 season, Swinney presented a surprisingly clean bill of health for his 2022 roster during July’s team media day.

Outside of first-year wide receiver Adam Randall, who will be limited while he recovers from a torn ACL, “we expect everyone to be in camp and ready to go,” he said. he declares. Clemson fires 15 of the top 22 offensive/defensive starters.

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Clemson wide receiver Will Taylor (16) catches a punt in the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina State on Saturday, September 11, 2021 in Clemson, South Carolina ( AP Photo/Edward M. Pio Roda) Edward M. Pio Roda PA

Offensive Position Battles

Third-year offensive linemen Mitchell Mayes and Bryn Tucker will split the first-team right guard reps, according to position coach Thomas Austin.

This should be the most visible positional battle on an offensive line with an All-ACC left tackle in Jordan McFadden and experienced starters at left guard (Marcus Tate), center (Will Putnam) and right tackle (Walker Parks) .

In the slot, receivers coach Tyler Grisham said Clemson expects to start veteran Brannon Spector, who has missed all of 2021 with respiratory issues. But it will be interesting to see who emerges as his primary replacement between sophomore Will Taylor and freshman Antonio Williams, both of whom are dynamic point guards.

There are also expected to be jockeys between Dacari Collins, Troy Stellato and EJ Williams for reps behind presumptive starters Joseph Ngata and Beaux Collins.

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Clemson cornerback Malcolm Greene (21) takes down Georgia Tech quarterback Jordan Yates (13) in third quarter action in Clemson, SC on Saturday September 18, 2021. Travis Bell Sideline Caroline

Defensive position battles

Position coach Mike Reed says Sheridan Jones and Nate Wiggins are Clemson’s likely starters at cornerback, but there’s no firm depth chart at the position yet.

Returning Fred Davis II and Malcolm Greene, plus real freshmen Jeadyn Lukus and Toriano Pride Jr., could jump into the rotation as Clemson finds the best way to replace two starters and All-ACC artists in Andrew Booth Jr. and Mario Goodrich.

At linebacker, Clemson graduated stalwarts James Skalski and Baylon Spector. All-ACC pick Trenton Simpson is an obvious lock, but how will the team split other first-team representatives between LaVonta Bentley, Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter Jr.?

Freshman defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Wes Goodwin, a fan of positional versatility, said Clemson linebackers have been cross-training on all three points (strong side, middle and weak side).

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Antonio Williams 8 of Dutch Fork plays Gaffney at Benedict College on Saturday December 4, 2021. Joshua Boucher [email protected]

New players

Clemson signed 20 scholarship recruits to its Class of 2022, which ranked 14th nationally in the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings.

Nine of those players were signed up at the start of January and took part in spring training, while 11 signed up at Clemson this summer and will debut at camp on Friday. Clemson’s 11 summer registrants are:

Chapel Fowler has covered Clemson football, among other topics, for The State since June 2022. He is a native of Denver, North Carolina, a 2020 UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, and an avid basketball player. with previous stops at the Fayetteville (NC) Observer and Chatham (NC) News + Recording. His work has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the North Carolina Press Association, and the Associated College Press.

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