By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
He was not calling out Tyler Shatley to be mean or spiteful or anything like that when the team huddled up inside the WestZone at Memorial Stadium Sunday night. Instead, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had a point to prove.
He needs someone to replace former center Dalton Freeman as the leader on the offensive line and he knows Shatley, a senior, is the man for the job.
“There is not a better guy that leads from an example standpoint,” Swinney said Monday evening after the Tigers finished up their sixth practice of the spring. “He is going to do everything to the nth degree. Way above and beyond of what is required. That’s how he is. He is a great leader.
“Brandon Thomas has done a good job, but you also have to have some guys that will challenge guys from time-to-time. The best leadership is from within, at least all the best teams that I have been on.”
The key is for guys not to wait around. They cannot wait for a coach to step in and challenge somebody. But it cannot come from just anybody. It has to come from someone that everyone respects. A player who has been through the battles on the football field and has overcome obstacles to get in the position he is in.
Shatley, who lettered two years on the defensive line before moving to the offensive line last spring, fits that bill.
“He is a guy that the guys respect greatly,” Swinney said. “This time last year, he was just trying to learn how to play on the offensive line. He had never played offensive line (in a game) until he played against Auburn. He was trying to learn a new craft.
“He is in a different situation now, and Dalton isn’t here. We need that from him. We need that from Brandon. We need Ryan Norton to be a young leader for us. We need Eric Mac Lain to be a young leader for us. Those guys have the ability to do that.”
Swinney also wants to see guys like Kalon Davis, Reid Webster and David Beasley accept more of the leadership roles on the offensive line and in the locker room.
“They are not pups anymore,” Swinney said.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd says a few of the skill players, besides himself and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, need to take ownership the rest of the spring and become better leaders as well. Boyd even called out running back Roderick McDowell to a point, saying he needed him to be one of those guys he could count on.
“He is a great player, but he is going to have to be a leader for us,” Boyd said. “He has been doing that. He has had a great spring so far. He is a very dependable guy. He has been working.
“Brandon Thomas, Tyler Shatley and Sammy, of course, are just some of the guys that in our position we have to step up and kind of help lead the way. It is not just about preparing for now, but for the future. In the sense of me being out here and working with the quarterbacks and things of that nature, it’s all about helping those guys and building those guys. I have to be an example to a point where they understand whenever we leave, and it is all said and done, they can step up and be in the same position and lead the guys in the same way that we did, and expect the same results.”