Swinney impressed by secondary's influx of youth

Swinney impressed by secondary's influx of youth

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Swinney impressed by secondary's influx of youth

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Clemson got back into live action Monday with its second full padded practice of spring drills.

The Tigers have been riding the wave coming off a perfect 15-0 season capped off with a dominating and convincing win over Alabama in the national championship game on Jan. 7. But now it is time to restart with a new season to go along with the turnover of a large senior class and influx of talented newcomers.

One area of concern on defense is in the secondary, which lost All-ACC corner Trayvon Mullen to the NFL. Mullen is expected to get a call in the 2019 NFL Draft, which leaves room for a younger player to step up and fill a crucial role at cornerback.

A guy who is challenging to fill Mullen’s old spot is sophomore Kyler McMichael. But in the second practice last week, McMichael pulled his hamstring and has missed the last two practices. Despite the unfortunate injury, head coach Dabo Swinney has been impressed with some of the younger players in the secondary.

“Mario Goodrich has been doing a great job and he’s playing over at the boundary right now,” Swinney said after Monday’s practice. “He has made lots of improvement and I’m really encouraged with him. His body language and demeanor show that he wants to be a better football player and I’m really encouraged with the work he has put it.

“We’ve worked with Denzel Johnson, he is a guy who can help us and gives us versatility,” he continued. “I loved Sheridan Jones. He’ll bite you. He is a little light in the pants, but as far as instincts and the way that he moves, he is a smooth dude. He reminds me so much of Crezdon Butler.”

Potter, Sawicki battling it out for kicker. Swinney said the battle to replace Greg Huegel as placekicker has been a good one between B.T. Potter and Steven Sawicki.

“We only have two kickers right now in camp … Saw Dawg and Potter. Potter’s thing is becoming consistent. He hit a 55-yard (kick) that would’ve been good from 65 yards out. Then he missed a 30-yarder,” Swinney said. “He was perfect today and we really worked on short kicks and field goals today. He will be fine.

“Sawicki doesn’t have long range but he’s been good from short.”

Spiers showing strong improvement at punter. Swinney likes what he has seen from punter Will Spiers, who is being challenged this spring by freshman Aidan Swanson and Sawicki.

“He finished the season strong and looks like a different guy,” Swinney said about Spiers. “He looks incredibly confident and has been very consistent. He has all the talent in the world, but he has been inconsistent (in his career).

“I thought the last half of the year he settled in, most of it is him just putting a full game together. Aiden is the same thing, recruited him for a reason … consistency and timing.”

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