By Heath Bradley.
By Heath Bradley
CLEMSON — In a move that many in the media expected to be made at some point, Clemson redshirt freshman Eric Mac Lain has been moved from tight end to offensive line.
Due to injuries along the front after the Auburn game, Mac Lain decided to go to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and suggest the move take place sooner, rather than later.
“I texted coach Swinney when Giff Timothy got hurt, when he hurt his knee,” Mac Lain said. “I said ‘Coach maybe we can talk about this and think about this.’ It kept going, he was hurt in practice again, and so I scheduled a meeting with (Swinney) and brought it up, and they seemed to run with it.”
Currently, Mac Lain is making the transition from tight end to tackle, while still appearing in games as a tight end until the transition is complete. Mac Lain feels his history as a tight end will allow for an easier transition to tackle, due to his footwork.
“Being a tight end, I think I have a little better footwork from the start. Learning is the ultimate key for me right now,” he said.
With Mac Lain splitting time at both positions during practice, he is also splitting time in position meetings. In his short time with offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hope Mills, N.C., native has already found a comfort level.
“Monday and Thursday I go with (tight ends coach Danny) Pearman, the rest of the meeting times are with Caldwell,” he said. “He is awesome, I love him, and he is a funny guy.”
The decision to move from tight end to offensive line was a tough decision for Mac Lain, one that he discussed in detail with his father.
“At first we were both kind of skeptical about it, going from being a tight end all my life, all my career. To something I have never done before, on the highest stage in ACC football,” he said. “At the end of the day, we just want to get me on the field. That is what our ultimate goal is.”
Mac Lain’s father was originally against the move; he is now on board, because it gives Eric the fastest chance to help the Tigers.
“He just wants me to get on the field, as fast as possible, anyway I can,” Mac Lain said. “We talked about it for a good long time, and feel it is best for us right now”
As for what Mac Lain wants himself, his answer was short and to the point.
“Whatever gets me on the field first, baby!,” he smiled.
Mac Lain did not have to look far to see how to make the transition from tight end to offensive line. Just last season, Clemson starting left tackle Phillip Price was a former walk-on tight end. Mac Lain says he can use what he saw from Price as a guide for making the transition as easy as possible.
“Seeing how he did it, and the time it took him to do it. I think that is a very good figure I can be going after,” he said.
One major factor in the transition is how quickly Mac Lain is able to gain weight to be the correct body size for the tackle position. According to Mac Lain, he has already started to add weight, and is doing so the correct way, being a health science major.
He has also met with an advisor who has given him a plan for the future.
“We had a specialist come in, and he said I could easily put on 40 pounds of muscle within a year. That will be exciting,” Mac Lain said.
One thing the tight end / tackle will miss is the ability to catch passes.
“My favorite thing is catching passes, I love it,” he said. “I am going to miss it, but you have to do what the team needs.”
While he will not be an eligible receiver every play, he hopes the coaching staff will find a way to make him an eligible option at times.
“We have been writing it up already, Alabama ran it a couple of years ago, I think. We are going to draw something up,” he said.