It is understandable everyone wants to talk about quarterback Trevor Lawrence when examining which freshmen can impact the Clemson football team the most this coming season.
Lawrence after all was the No. 1 ranked player in the country coming out of high school and he zoomed up the preseason depth chart to No. 2 behind incumbent Kelly Bryant after a solid first spring. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound freshman did well enough in fact, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says they are considering the idea of playing two quarterbacks.
However, as talented a Lawrence is, there are other freshmen, especially on the offensive side of the ball, that could make an impact this season.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is excited to see where guys like tight end Braden Galloway, offensive lineman Jackson Carman and wide receiver Derion Kendrick are at when fall camp starts on Aug. 2.
Galloway missed most of spring practice because of a foot injury he suffered in high school, but the early enrollee paid attention and asked questions so when he finally got cleared to practice he made an impact and started making plays.
The Clemson coaching staff feels like they got a steal with the 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end. They feel he has the potential to be as good, if not better than former All-American Jordan Leggett, who is now with the NFL’s New York Jets.
Galloway played varsity football for two years at nearby Seneca High School, where he became a star. He played tight end as a junior and then last season moved to quarterback before being injured. He caught 50 passes for 834 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior.
A very good athlete, Galloway was named the Region Player of the Year in basketball his junior year when he averaged 20.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
“Braden Galloway, even though it was limited to the end of spring practice, you saw his ability to stretch the field and run and his ability to go up and make plays,” Elliott said. “He is a guy that we are excited about.”
The coaches are also excited about Carman, who is listed as the Tigers’ third-team left tackle and left guard on the depth chart. Carman was a five-star product in high school, and was rated as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country.
At 6-foot-6, 350 pounds, Carman was a little over weight in the spring, which slowed him down at bit. However, offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell reported he has lost 20 pounds since the spring ended.
“Jackson Carman is a guy that when the light comes on, he will be able to help us,” Elliott said. “Hopefully that will happen here in fall camp and he will be able to put it all together and things will start to slow down because physically he is a guy that can help us right away.”
Perhaps the freshman that might help Clemson the most this year is wide receiver Derion Kendrick. Before getting nicked up in the latter of the spring, the former quarterback from nearby South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, S.C., was the talk of the spring.
He was making explosive plays that reminded Elliott of former wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
“Early on, you saw some flashes. He is a guy that is very, very quick and very, very explosive,” Elliott said. “I think I even made a reference to his explosiveness being to a guy that we had in the past. But then down the stretch we saw we have to work on some mental toughness. Being able to come out every single day … he had a little bit of an injury he had to battle through.
“But, definitely the flashes are there and he is a guy that you do not think about as a freshman because of what you saw when he was out there and how explosive he is.”
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