Clemson signed seven offensive players as part of its historic 2018 recruiting class, and according to co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, there isn’t a weak link in the group.
“I was just telling somebody, I think this 2018 class of guys we signed offensively, I think we hit on every single one of those guys,” Scott said Saturday following the Tigers’ scrimmage at Death Valley.
The newcomers on offense include quarterback Trevor Lawrence, wide receivers Justyn Ross and Derion Kendrick, running back Lyn-J Dixon, tight end Braden Galloway and linemen Jackson Carman and Jordan McFadden.
When Scott looks at the 2018 freshman class offensively, he foresees a very bright future and can’t help but be reminded of some of Clemson’s all-time greats.
“I was telling somebody the other day, they kind of remind me of the guys that left in ’16,” Scott said. “We finished that national championship season offensively — really at every position, your best guy was leaving — Deshaun (Watson), (Jordan) Leggett, (Wayne) Gallman, Jay Guillermo, Mike Williams, Artavis Scott.
“I kind of see that in this ’18 class. At every position, I see multi-year starters, leaders, kind of those franchise-type players. So, that’s going to be fun to watch those guys this year and in the next couple years.”
Several of the offensive freshmen showed well in Saturday’s scrimmage, most notably Lawrence, Ross and Dixon.
Scott said Lawrence “made some big-time throws” and “had a lot of explosive plays,” while Ross “had several ‘wow’ moments” with receptions, including a one-handed grab that Scott said was one of the best catches he has seen.
Ross’s spectacular catch came on his first play of the scrimmage, and Dixon took his first handoff of the scrimmage 50 yards for a touchdown.
“It reminded me of 2011, playing Troy in our opener,” Scott said. “Sammy Watkins’ first catch was to the house. Later on in that game, Mike Bellamy, a true freshman, had a 75-yard (touchdown) to the house and then Martavis Bryant, first catch as a freshman, down to the 3-yard line.
“I kind of see that today out of Justyn Ross out here for the first time, Lyn-J Dixon on his first carry… It speaks really well to what we have coming in the future.”
Lawrence, Ross and Dixon have grabbed headlines early in camp, but other freshmen such as Galloway and McFadden also have the coaching staff excited for what is to come.
“Galloway’s a guy that immediately reminds you of Jordan Leggett,” Scott said. “Just an explosive playmaker. … Another guy that doesn’t get talked about that we’re very pleased with is Jordan McFadden. He comes from a good program over there at Dorman. David Gutshall does a great job. Michael Lancaster is the O-line coach, he does a great job. He’s coached several guys that we’ve had here at Clemson.
“But he’s further along than what we expected. Great feet, been more physical than we expected him maybe to be as a freshman, and been a very bright spot.”
When a team recruits at an elite level and brings in a freshman class as talented as the Tigers’ 2018 class, it creates competition with the veteran players. Just because you’re a returning starter doesn’t necessarily mean your job is safe, and that’s exactly what Dabo Swinney and his staff want.
“Part of our culture is competing every day and that ‘Best is the Standard,'” Scott said. “The way that we’ve been very fortunate to recruit very well — if you don’t bring it one day, you’re going to get passed by. And Coach Swinney has already shown that this staff’s not afraid to move the next guy up and give him opportunities. When you have that culture, then that keeps the backups going and working… So, I really like that. I like to see how many guys are out here competing making plays.”