The road to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte begins Tuesday when Clemson hits the practice fields for the first time. Over the next few weeks the true freshmen will battle to show the staff that they deserve playing time this fall.
TheClemsonInsider.com takes a look where the freshmen will battle for playing time on offense.
1. Playmakers Needed at Receiver
One big need for the Tigers again this year is playmakers at receiver. Last year Jacoby Ford was the only playmaker at receiver and the Tigers turned to the tight end to help fill the void. The staff had hoped to have a few playmakers step forward during the spring, but none of the receivers showed that they could be consistent playmakers.
Former Daniel star DeAndre Hopkins is more talented than any receiver currently on campus. Hopkins should have been rated much higher by the recruiting services coming out of high school. Expect to hear Hopkins name a lot as camp progresses and expect to see him on the field this fall giving Clemson a playmaker at receiver.
Joe Craig brings speed to the Tigers who need it after the departure of Spiller and Ford. Craig will battle with BrYce McNeal and others trying to fill the void for Jacoby. Right now we project Craig to red-shirt this season.
2. Help Wanted at Tight End
With the departure of Michael Palmer, Rendrick Taylor and Durrell Barry the Tigers need depth at tight end. Dwayne Allen will be a force and could be the most talented tight end the Tigers have had, but depth is needed at the position. Chad Diehl will play more tight end this fall and provide some depth, but there is an opportunity for at least one of the true freshmen to play this fall.
Vic Beasley and Sam Cooper will try to fill that void. Beasley is a very skilled receiver and will likely be a great tight end in the future, but he will need to add some weight. The biggest question for Beasley will be can he make the adjustment from receiver to tight end. With his threat as a receiver don’t be surprised to see Beasley playing this fall to help fill the depth void at tight end.
Cooper isn’t as talented a receiver as Beasley but he has experience at the position. The first few weeks will be critical to his chances of playing this fall. Right now we project Sam as a red-shirt.
3. Offensive Line Deep
The Tigers have as much depth at offensive line as they have had in a number of years. Coach Scott said after the spring that last year he feels he can go seven or eight deep comfortably, where last year he only felt comfortable with six.
It is more difficult for true freshmen to play on the offensive line than other positions. The staff would like to see one of the true freshmen play this fall if they can make the grade over the next few weeks. Right now David Beasley is the projection to make the cut.
4. Depth at Running Back
Although Clemson lost their best all-around running back in history with the departure of C.J. Spiller the Tigers are in great shape at running back. Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper have both proven that they can carry the load. The battle at running back in August will be for depth.
Rod McDowell comes off a red-shirt year and brings a game similar to Ellington’s. Freshmen Demont Buice and D.J. Howard will battle with McDowell for the third team position. Expect this battle to last into late August. Right now we project a red-shirt for Buice.