Clemson’s facing a scholarship crunch, head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday.
The Tigers are currently three spots over the NCAA’s 85-man mandate. That means Clemson will need to see some attrition after spring practice during the second transfer portal window or Swinney will have to take away scholarships from former walk-ons.
“We’re at 88. It’s one of my favorite numbers, but that’s a problem,” Swinney said during his National Signing Day press conference. “Roster management is hard in this day of… I mean we got, what, a couple more years of (additional) Covid (years) I guess. I’m thankful for that because we got some great players that are coming back.”
Clemson is bringing in 26 freshmen from the 2023 recruiting class and one transfer in QB Paul Tyson. Swinney said he was surprised to keep defensive ends Xavier Thomas and Justin Mascoll and defensive tackles Tyler Davis and Ruke Orhorhoro, but with seven fifth- and sixth-year seniors returning, it’s going to lead to some tough decisions.
“We’ve got three walk-ons on scholarship that we could take back if we had to. I mean, they came here as walk on, certainly wouldn’t want to do that.”
Swinney named those three players: quarterback Hunter Helms, running back Domonique Thomas and long-snapper Holden Caspersen.
“Those guys have earned it and they deserve it, but they did come here as a walk on. I mean if we got to do that, but who knows? I may be at 65 scholarships (by the end of spring). They may hate (new offensive coordinator) Garrett (Riley). I don’t know, they may say heck with me, ‘I’m out of here.’
“I don’t know. So that’s where we are today. It doesn’t take much to really put the math together. So we will be at 85 by August, that’s where you got to be. We didn’t lose anybody after spring ball last year, and hopefully we don’t lose anybody this year. I think we got a great roster.”
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