By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Last season, redshirt sophomore Brandon Thomas was the inexperienced yet talented player on Clemson’s offensive line, however with 3 of 5 starters graduating during the offseason Thomas was one of the many players head coach Dabo Swinney challenged to step up after a season in which he had some shining moments.
After a weeklong spring break, Thomas spoke to the media about what the first practice was like, what his role will be this season, and how the offense is progressing this spring.
“It’s been exciting getting back out here after a week off,” Thomas said after practice on Monday. “Coming back it’s exciting because you want to show what you can do. It was tough on us our first day back, the heat kind of got to some people. We’re looking to come back better Wednesday.”
With the departure of left tackle Phillip Price, Thomas has made the move from left guard to left tackle where he has little experience. However, so far coach Swinney has called Thomas the MVP of spring practices with the way he’s stepped up to the challenge and taken on a leadership role.
“Right now my role is to try and get the younger guys acclimated and bring them along,” he said. “Last year really helped me with the offense, I didn’t really know the plays and now I do. “
What’s changed for Thomas to step up and become a team leader after only one year of starting?
“It’s everything,” he said. “Last year we had a new offense and I spent the year learning the offense. I think that was a big part of everything, trying to learn the offense and get better. This year I know the offense so I get to help other people and work on the little things, technique-wise. “
With defensive tackle Tyler Shatley moving over to the offensive line this season, Thomas thinks the move brings a lot of strength to the offense.
“That brings a lot of strength to our side of the ball,” Thomas said. “He is a strong guy, has a strong first punch and at guard you have to pop up and punch the guy, that really helps us. He’s quick, a good puller, I like him very much. I’m not surprised at how well he’s doing, I told him all last year that he needed to come over and play offense, they had enough defensive guys and I knew we’d need some guards.”
With the little experience that Thomas had last season at left tackle, what has he learned?
“I just wanted to prove that I could do it,” he said. “A lot of people last year preferred me at guard but with Phil going out I had to step up. And now with Phillip gone this is my chance to show what I can do.”