Clemson Spring Practice: Day 1 Defensive Observations

CLEMSON, S.C. — Spring practice is underway for the Clemson Tigers football team. 

Dabo Swinney addressed the media Monday before the team took the field, and then the first five periods of practice were open to the media. 

Here are some defensive observations from Day 1 of spring practice: 

— Clemson practiced without several key defenders on Monday. Defensive tackles Ruke Orhorhoro and Payton Page were both in yellow jerseys. They’ll miss all of spring ball while rehabbing from shoulder surgeries. Xavier Thomas is limited after having a screw put in his foot last year. Sheridan Jones was out at cornerback as well. Swinney said he’s still recovering from the injury he suffered before the bowl game last season. 

— With Thomas out, defensive end Greg Williams was running with the first-team defense during an early-practice tempo drill. Justin Mascoll was playing on the other side of the line. 

— Andrew Mukuba picked off a pass, sort of, thrown by Cade Klubnik during that drill. It was tough to tell if he caught the ball in bounds. Plus, there was no official on that end of the field to check for pass interference, and Mukuba was all over Cole Turner. 

— One of the big beneficiaries of a redshirt season from a physical standpoint appears to be defensive end Jahiem Lawson, the younger brother of former Clemson star Shaq Lawson. His slight build a year ago had him looking more like a wide receiver. He’s filled out more now. 

— A pair of former Tiger defenders were hanging out at practice. Bryan Bresee and KJ Henry, fresh off their NFL combine appearances, were giving their former teammates high fives and handshakes during the stretching portion. 

— As expected, Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. were the first two linebackers on the field during drills. Wade Woodaz and TJ Dudley were right behind them. Freshman Dee Crayton, who Swinney said is a thumper at linebacker, was wearing former Tiger standout Trenton Simpson’s No. 22. Kobe McCloud and freshman Jamal Anderson were also in the mix. 

— Freshman safety Khalil Barnes was running with the second-team safeties. He saw action with the team during Orange Bowl prep in December. 

— The media got their first look at Peter Woods, the prized recruit from Alabama. The defensive tackle wore Bresee’s old No. 11. He’s built more like Christian Wilkins, though. Clemson is very high on Woods’ impact this season.

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