Notebook: Early enrollees are best since Watson’s freshman year

Notebook: Early enrollees are best since Watson’s freshman year

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Notebook: Early enrollees are best since Watson’s freshman year

Dexter Lawrence says he was never 100 percent last year

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott says the Tigers’ early enrollees are perhaps the best group they have had since Deshaun Watson and his freshman class back in 2014.

“Just physically, they do not look like they are supposed to be in high school,” Scott said following Monday’s practice at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility. “They look like they belong. It is kind of fun to have some of these guest coaches—college coaches and high school coaches—asking about some of these guys. They think they have been on our team for a year or two. So that stands out.

“I think they have done a good job trying to keep up. We are coaching and teaching at a pretty fast tempo because we have a lot of older guys so those younger guys are forced to try and catch on as fast as they can.”

In January, defensive end Xavier Thomas, linebacker Mike Jones, wide receiver Derion Kendrick, defensive end K.J. Henry, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, offensive lineman Jackson Carman, tight end Braden Galloway, defensive tackle Darnell Jefferies and defensive tackle Josh Belk all enrolled in school early so they could compete in spring practice.

They have all shown flashes of what they are capable of here and there, but outside of Trevor Lawrence, Carman has really shown what he can do.

“There is no doubt he is going to be a great player before it is all over,” Scott said. “The closer you get to a ball, from a position standpoint, the longer it takes. Offensive linemen are really close to the ball and there is a lot going on. That and quarterback are probably the biggest transitions.

“There is no doubt in one-on-one situations that Jackson has done a really good job and has shown a lot of promise.”

Taking over at guard. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says juniors Sean Pollard and John Simpson have really stepped up at the two guard positions and seemed to have locked on to them.

Right now Pollard is playing right guard and Simpson is playing left guard.

‘Big Dex’ is okay. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said following Monday’s practice that his foot was never 100 percent last year, but that is going to be his goal this year.

Of course the 6-foot-5, 340-pound defensive tackle is wearing a green jersey this spring so he cannot compete in competitive drills. However, he can work during individual drills.

“If I had to, I could do it,” Lawrence said. “I’m just rehabbing and trying to get to hundred percent, but I’m not limited too much.”

Clemson has a new nickel back/SAM? Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Isaiah Simmons is settling in at the nickel/SAM position.

Swinney, who says Simmons will still play some at safety, is a natural at the strong side/nickel position because he has the physicality to get after the quarterback as well as play against the run, plus he can drop into coverage and has the speed to stay with wide receivers and running backs.

Swinney says Jalen Williams has performed well this spring and will be a factor at the position as well, but right now the job appears to be Simmons’ to lose.

Scrimmage on Wednesday. Clemson will have the first full scrimmage of the spring on Wednesday before Swinney releases the team for spring break. The Tigers will scrimmage in Death Valley.

Clemson will enter the spring in pretty good shape from a health standpoint, according to Swinney.

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