By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
Rod McDowell’s face lit up when the question was asked.
The Clemson tailback, who was recently named the official starter for the Tigers heading into the season opener with Georgia, wasn’t asked about his own performance, his team’s chances against the Bulldogs, or his thoughts on his status as camp prepares to close.
Instead, McDowell’s face lit up when he was asked about the progress of Stanton Seckinger at tight end.
“You would never think the Seckinger you see right now was the Seckinger of last year,” McDowell said. “With the weight he’s put on and him controlling the weight, he’s looked pretty good.”
Seckinger occupies a key spot at the latest position of need on the Clemson football team. Over a period of months, tight end has gone from a strong group whose last two prominent alumni were on NFL rosters to one barely keeping its head above water due to a pair of injuries to presumed starter Sam Cooper in the spring game and next-in-line freshman Jordan Leggett earlier in camp.
Seckinger appears poised and ready to make the most of his chances. But he also came to Clemson with a reputation as a brainiac, meaning he understands the significance of losing a pair of key contributors at the same position.
“We need depth,” Seckinger said. “We need as many people as we can have. I’m extremely excited to be getting a good bit of playing time, but in all reality, we need those guys.”
Seckinger arrived at Clemson a gangly wide receiver with a penchant for catching the football and providing a big target for quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris has parlayed those strengths into a serviceable tight end who has added some bulk and worked hard to improve his blocking.
Technique is paramount for Seckinger in his quest to become more well-rounded. He says his work with Cooper and Darrell Smith—both known for blocking ability—has made him more confident in that arena. Even so, Seckinger knows what he is on the field to do.
“Hopefully my strength will be the ability to stretch the field and stretch defenses,” he said. “It’s not only for my benefit and Tajh’s reads, but also for the other receivers. Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute a lot in that way, and as my blocking develops, I can contribute just as much to the running game.”
Injuries can derail a coach’s plans, but Morris seems confident in his ability to move forward with his master plan for the Clemson offense in spite of them. Seckinger has proven his worth—not to the point he is the starter, but enough for Morris to feel confident about the position.
“He’s come on,” Morris said. “He’s finished up camp, in the last five or six days, really strong. I think he’s going to be a guy that’s going to give us a lot of versatility. He’s gained weight, he looks good, he’s gotten a lot more physical.”