Clemson football begins spring practice on Monday, and the offense has plenty of work to do as a new era kicks off on this side of the ball.
Here’s a look at what the spring depth chart looks like and who needs to develop for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers during the next six weeks:
First team: Cade Klubnik
Second team: Chris Vizzina
Third team: Paul Tyson
This is a huge spring for QB development. The signal-callers are breaking in two new faces in the room with Vizzina and Tyson. Undisputed starter Klubnik is still pretty green himself. And with new offensive coordinator/QB coach Garrett Riley installing a fresh system and terminology, this is going to be a challenging spring for this position. Vizzina’s development is critical to identifying if he can be the No. 2 during the season. Tyson’s role is more about leadership and a veteran presence than preparing for playing time.
First: Will Shipley
Second: Phil Mafah
Third: Domonique Thomas or Keith Adams
The roles in this room are pretty well defined at the top. Shipley is 1A, Mafah 1B. Thomas and Adams are battling for that third spot. This should be a big spring for Adams, who played sparingly as a true freshman last year. How this group assimilates to Riley’s heavy-run Air Raid style is something to watch, but there is no doubt this is the best unit on offense this spring.
First: Adam Randall (9)
Antonio Williams (5)
Beaux Collins (2)
Second: Cole Turner (9)
Troy Stellato (5)
Brannon Spector (2)
Clemson is still looking for an alpha in the receiver room, and the spring may help produce one. Williams is the top returning pass-catcher on the team and is an undisputed starter in the slot. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets moved around any, though. Randall and Collins will also enter the spring as starters, but Turner is an intriguing redshirt freshman who is going to push for playing time. Collins could be limited after having shoulder surgery late last year. Whether or not Turner can unseat one of the other two remains to be seen, but this is an important spring for a position that lacked juice and playmaking last year.
First: Jake Brinigstool
Second: Sage Ennis or Josh Sapp
With Davis Allen gone, Briningstool is the No. 1 after producing 25 catches for 285 yards and four touchdowns last season. He’s a player to keep an eye on this spring because he could thrive in this new offensive system. He’ll need to build chemistry with Klubnik and the other QBs. Meanwhile, Sapp is a guy to watch as well. TE coach Kyle Richardson raved about him last summer. Sapp needs to take a step forward if the Tigers want to have two passing options at tight end like last year.
First: Blake Miller
Second: Tristan Leigh
First: Marcus Tate or Walker Parks
Second: Mitchell Mayes or Collin Sadler
First: Will Putnam
Second: Ryan Linthicum or Trent Howard
Second: Howard or Mayes
First: Leigh or Miller
Second: John Williams
This is the offensive position with the most work to do this spring. Tate and Parks, both expected-starting tackles, won’t go through contact as they work their way back from surgeries. That’ll stress a lot of young players but give them needed reps. Mayes can play either side as basically a third starter, but Sadler is the lineman who can make the most of a big spring.
At tackle, Miller moving from right to left is a huge storyline to follow. Is Leigh ready for the big time? This spring will give the coaches a good idea of that. If not, there will be more work to do in the offseason and some tough choices to make in fall camp.
Putnam returned to be the No. 1 center, but Linthicum has made great strides and should see a ton of reps this spring. If he looks good enough, could Putnam move back to one of the guard spots? It’s another option the Tigers can play with this spring.
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