Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was surprised no one in the media had asked him about linebacker James Skalski, who missed most of fall camp with a toe injury.
Swinney told the media following Wednesday’s practice at the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson that the junior is back at practice and his doing well. He also gave another update on Skalski that no one saw coming.
“We’re actually going to try and hold Skalski,” Swinney said.
By hold, Swinney means redshirt. Thanks to the NCAA’s new redshirt rules, coaches can also hold older players back and tag them if they feel it is in the best interest of the player and the team. With Skalski missing most of fall camp, he falls in that category.
“We are going to try and see if we can steal a year back with him,” the Clemson coach said. “That’s our goal. Boy, breaking news! Nobody’s asked me! I have been waiting on it. I can’t just volunteer all the good nuggets. I’ve hinted on it a few times. Now with the redshirt rule, we’ve got options.”
Skalski started two games for the Tigers last season and played in 14. He was a big plus for Clemson when Tre Lamar and Kendall Joseph both went down with injuries late in the season.
The 6-foot, 240-pound linebacker registered 37 tackles, including two tackles for loss. He also had nine tackles on special teams, which was second on the team behind Dorian O’Daniel’s 11 tackles.
Swinney said they started kicking around the idea of redshirting Skalski after he missed the first couple of weeks of camp. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables approached him with the idea and Skalski jumped on board.
“Now we have options. There might be somebody on our roster that you might be able to steal a year back. So, that is kind of where we are with Skalski,” Swinney said. “He is excited about it. That is product of No. 1, we love our people at backer and we feel great about our depth and functionality at backer.
“If we have some injuries or something then all bets are off. If things stay status quo, then we kind of get the best of both worlds because we can hold him, still playing him four games, kind of pick those games where we have a great player available and then get him back for two more years.”