With Dabo Swinney announcing earlier this week that wide receiver Cornell Powell will sit out the rest of the season in hopes to get back a year as a redshirt, it means third-ranked Clemson will have a new kick returner when it hosts No. 15 NC State this Saturday at Death Valley.
Swinney said freshmen Derion Kendrick and Lyn-J Dixon will handle the team’s kickoff responsibilities against the Wolfpack.
“They will be the two guys that we are going to work in there,” Swinney said following Wednesday’s practice. “We are doing okay. I think we are third in the league in returns. We have not got a lot of returns because we are low scoring defense so that is a good thing, but I think as a team we are third, so we have done a couple of good things.”
Powell played a big part in Clemson’s success in the return game. Before academic issues forced the junior receiver to set out the last two games, he was averaging 29.2 yards per return, including a long of 43 yards.
As a team, the Tigers are averaging 24.1 yards per return. Dixon has returned one kick for 16 yards, while Kendrick has one for 14 yards.
“We are going to give these guys an opportunity,” Swinney said. “They have practiced well, and I think they will do fine.”
As for Powell, Swinney said they have not talked about what Powell will do for the team when he returns next year. Though he played the first four games at wide receiver, where he caught five passes for 63 yards, the junior cross trained at safety in the spring.
“We have not talked about any of that,” Swinney said. “We are just trying to see if we can get a year back with him. That is our goal for him. He had a really good camp and a good season and was kind of getting more and more involved and just had an academic situation that sat him down for a little while.
“That’s the only reason we even started talking (about redshirting) … like I said, it is resolved, and he could go play this week, but we kind of said, ‘You know, let’s see if we can take a year back.’ We will see how it works out. That is our goal.”
Feaster back in pads. Running back Tavien Feaster had a good couple of days in pads for the Tigers this week. The Spartanburg native suffered a stinger in his left shoulder in Clemson’s win over Wake Forest on Oct. 6.
Swinney said Feaster will play against NC State. Last year, the junior had an 89-yard touchdown run in Clemson’s win over the Wolfpack.
For the year, Feaster has rushed for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry.