The 2017 preseason is underway and the Clemson Tigers have begun the journey they hope takes them back to the College Football Playoff.
In this edition of our Up Downs feature we take a look at which players made a move in the first three days of camp, and are elevating their game and their position on the depth chart. We also take a look at which players have slipped a little and have some climbing to do as the Tigers get deeper into camp.
Diondre Overton: One of the stars of Saturday’s scrimmage was sophomore Diondre Overton as he led all receivers with four catches. Earlier in the week Overton had received praise from the staff and there was plenty more from head coach Dabo Swinney and co-offensive coordinator Elliott following the scrimmage. Overton came to Clemson as a freak athlete that was raw and a year later he is now another playmaker available to WRU. Coach Swinney compared Overton earlier this week to Mike Williams.
Travis Etienne: For the second week in a row freshman running back Travis Etienne continues to show he is going to be a factor in the running back position this season. Etienne led all rushers in Saturday’s scrimmage with 10 carries for 56 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown. Etienne combines a quick first step with good speed and is making an early move on the depth chart.
Austin Bryant: The nation’s top defensive line looks to be even better with Bryant returning to form. Bryant had an outstanding scrimmage Saturday with four tackles and two tackles for loss. All of the hype entering the season was on Wilkins, Lawrence and Ferrell but Bryant is ready to become a major player up front.
Shaq Smith: Red-shirt freshman Shaq Smith is starting to show why he was a 5-star linebacker coming out of high school. Smith had an outstanding scrimmage with five tackles and one sack and received plenty of praise this week from the staff.
Cannon Smith: As the Tigers look for a replacement for Jordan Leggett at tight end, Cannon Smith is making a case for more playing time this season. Smith had two catches in Saturday’s scrimmage and is showing the staff that he is ready to be a major contributor at tight end and not just as a blocking tight end.
Shadell Bell: A calf muscle injury has been keeping Bell on the sidelines and it kept him out of Saturday’s scrimmage. Bell, who is still working to make the transition to tight end, needs reps and is losing an opportunity for those due to the injury. In the next week to 10 days the reps will start to be distributed to those that will see the field early this season.
Amari Rodgers: Freshman Amari Rodgers made a big move the first week of camp and even saw some time with the ones due to other injuries. Now he is fighting a tender achilles’ injury which is keeping him from getting the reps that are critical for a freshman. We still expect Rodgers to be another great playmaker for Clemson at receiver this year, but the sooner he gets back to 100 percent the better if he wants to make an early impact.
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