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Leaders emerge as first half of spring drills come to close

Even prior to last year’s national championship run, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney spoke about the leadership on that team. He said from day one of mat drills the team displayed a leadership quality he had not seen on any other team he had coached.

Though a lot of those leaders have moved on, especially guys like Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware and Jadar Johnson, Swinney says he is beginning to see new leaders emerge as the Tigers wrap up the first half spring drills.

On defense, guys such as defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence and defensive end Clelin Ferrell have stepped and have taken over the reins left behind by Boulware and Johnson.

“The more vocal guys are over on defense, which is not surprising,” Swinney said. “Guys like Christian and Clelin … Clelin was a freshman last year, but you would think he is a senior. He is a guy that is really leading. I’m hearing him all the time. That has been good to see. I never here Dex, but I see him. I see him all the time so he is leading, too.”

Though they are not as vocal, players such as left tackle Mitch Hyatt, center Justin Falcinelli and tight end Garrett Williams are stepping up and leading the offensive guys.

“Offensively we don’t have a ton of vocal guys,” Swinney said. “Mitch Hyatt is never going to be a vocal guy, but I think he is a great leader. I think Falcinelli has done a great job at center. He is the guy that has to direct everything up front. He has really done a nice job. I’m pleased with him.

“I think a young guy like Sean Pollard, and I think Tremayne Anchrum has been outstanding. He has really done a nice job so it is really across the board.”

Swinney would not say there is really one guy that is leading the offense, but he thinks they are all kind of carrying the load right now.

“Adam Choice is one of those guys that we kind of wanted to see take a step forward,” the Clemson coach said. “He just seems confident. He just looks like a veteran. I think he has asserted himself a little more.

“I think that Kelly (Bryant) has been very, very impressive through seven practices. He has good command out there in all situations. I am anxious to see him on Wednesday.”

On Wednesday, the Tigers will have their first full scrimmage of the spring before departing for spring break. They will start the second half of spring practices on March 27. The spring will conclude with the annual Orange & White Game on April 8.

 

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