Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has been impressed with his team’s newcomers through the first three days of fall camp.
Eight members of the Tigers’ 2018 freshman class have gotten their feet wet early in camp after enrolling at Clemson in late June.
“That whole group is what I hoped they would be,” Swinney said following Clemson’s practice Monday evening.
The highest-profile newcomer is former five-star wide receiver Justyn Ross, who on National Signing Day in February became the first No. 1-ranked prospect from the state of Alabama to sign with Clemson.
“He’s one of those guys that’s just very natural at a lot of things and the things that we need to correct and clean up,” Swinney said of Ross. “He’s hungry for that coaching and he really applies it.”
Another new addition to the offense is former four-star prospect Lyn-J Dixon, who gives Clemson a fourth scholarship running back to go with sophomore Travis Etienne, junior Tavien Feaster and senior Adam Choice.
“I was very pleased with him the first two days, just his quickness,” Swinney said. “He’s got natural vision.”
On the defensive side of the ball, two freshmen that Clemson hopes will help provide depth at cornerback — Mario Goodrich and Kyler McMichael — haven’t wasted any time making their presence felt, according to Swinney.
“Mario and Kyler, they’re just what I hoped they would be,” Swinney said. “Mario made a one-handed interception today. It was awesome. He’s got great ball skills, and he’s getting better. Technically, he has a little more to improve on, but I love his coachability. He’s tough, he’s got great ball skills, can run.
“And then Kyler, he’s one of the fastest kids we’ve had come in here. He’s explosive, and physically in such a good spot. So, very encouraged about those couple young guys.”
Defensively in the trenches, Clemson is even more loaded after adding another top talent to the fold in former four-star defensive end Justin Mascoll (6-4, 252).
“He’s kind of a granddaddy long legs running around out there,” Swinney joked. “He’s long and athletic. I’ve been pleased looking at him.”
Not to be forgotten about is freshman kicker B.T. Potter, who is competing with seniors Greg Huegel and Alex Spence.
“Huge leg,” Swinney said of Potter. “Likes to compete. He isn’t afraid. He’s got a little swag to him. The guys like him. We didn’t today, but a lot of practices we’ve been kind of ending practice with kicking competition and punter competition in front of the whole team, just seeing who can step up and compete right there — just hey, let’s go. And he’s been punting, too.
“He’s exactly what we thought he’d be. He’s very talented, and it will be fun to watch.”
Along with the aforementioned players, Clemson welcomed linebacker Jake Venables and offensive lineman Jordan McFadden to campus over the summer.
The eight newcomers join the rest of Clemson’s 2018 signing class that enrolled early in January and went through spring practice (quarterback Trevor Lawrence, defensive end Xavier Thomas, defensive end K.J. Henry, offensive lineman Jackson Carman, linebacker Mike Jones, wide receiver Derion Kendrick, defensive tackle Darnell Jefferies and tight end Braden Galloway).
“The mid-years, they’re all better,” Swinney said. “They look like redshirt freshmen. Some of them still have a little ways to go and haven’t gotten quite as many reps as some of the others, but they’re all better.”
Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders. TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship. Order your copy today!