Being down two starting offensive linemen in a spring ball might be cause for concern in some seasons.
Not right now at Clemson.
Having Walker Parks and Marcus Tate limited in spring practice as they work themselves back from offseason surgeries has actually been a “blessing in disguise,” according to Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney.
“We really know who they are,” Swinney said about Parks and Tate, his two starting guards. “They gave us an opportunity to really develop all these guys. This offensive line has has taken a huge step forward, as they should.”
Swinney pointed out that only starting left tackle Jordan McFadden departed from last year’s group, leaving behind a high number of players who are using this spring to get better.
“We’ve got a really, really good group,” Swinney said. “Bunch of juniors, bunch of red shirt sophomores. And then you got some really dynamic freshmen.”
Having senior Will Putnam back at center to anchor the line has been huge. Sophomore Blake Miller is holding down the starting right tackle spot again while redshirt sophomore Tristan Leigh has replaced McFadden on the left side.
Without Parks, Tate and Mitchell Mayes, another guard who’s been limited in recent weeks, Swinney said he’s gotten a good look at redshirt freshman Collin Sadler and a trio of early enrollees – Harris Sewell, Ian Reed and Zack Owens.
While Swinney said Reed and Owens have a long way to go in terms of development, knowledge and body composition, the “smart, strong” Sewell has stood out.
“He can just bend. He can move,” Swinney said. “He has great football IQ. He understands defenses, incredibly well coached.
“He is as tough as they come. He’s nasty. He can play really three positions. Very athletic and he’s got the mentality so he’s a rare guy that that physically and mentally it kind of matches up.”
The Tigers will put several of these players on the field Saturday for the annual Orange and White Spring Game at 1 p.m.
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