Clemson’s new defensive line was impressive in this past Saturday’s mini-scrimmage. At least that was the message the offensive line was putting out after Monday’s practice.
Offensive linemen Gage Cervenka, Sean Pollard and Jackson Carman said they were all impressed with the Tigers’ defensive line.
“I’m surprised. They are actually very good,” Cervenka said. “The new freshmen coming in, they are strong, and it seems like they have picked up the play calls very well and very quickly. That is definitely very nice to see.”
The new freshmen are of course, Tyler Davis, Logan Cash, Etinosa Reuben and Ruke Orhorhoro. Redshirt junior Xavier Kelly is also playing well up front, along with Xavier Thomas, Logan Rudolph, K.J. Henry, Justin Foster and Justin Mascoll.
They are all replacing one of the most dominate defensive fronts in the recent history of college football. Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant, all earned First-Team All-American honors during their Clemson careers.
“That is a big question coming in. How is our D-line going to be after losing all of those guys? Seeing how they are performing, right now, I am not worried about it because it is very early,” Cervenka said. “They still have a lot to learn, but they came in early and we still have a lot of ball left to practice before we come out in August.
“I think they will do very well. They have done well so far.”
Cervenka said Davis, a defensive tackle, stood out to him in the half-scrimmage on Saturday.
“He is a freak. There is something about him,” Clemson’s right guard said. “You can definitely tell that he loves the game. He came in and he already knows what is going on. You can see that there is something different with him.
“We kind of like to call him ‘Baby Dex’ because he looks like a little ‘Baby Dex.’ He is a little bit smaller, but he is strong, and he is fast. He is going to be a great player. I am looking forward to seeing what he has got.”
Pollard said Davis is “a baller.”
“The dude is really good,” said Pollard who was moved to center this spring. “He just knows how to handle his body and he is really good with his hands. Logan Cash is really active with his hands, especially when he gets moved to his side.
“All of the freshmen are doing really well.”
As for the guys that were here last season, Pollard pointed out Thomas, Foster and Henry as guys making plays, while Carman said Rudolph is really difficult to handle.
“Listen, Xavier is amazing. One of the best I have ever seen. Logan? I hate going against Logan,” Clemson’s new starting left tackle said. “Every time I go against him, I get hurt. He is a ball of fire. Like a ball of fire.
“Literally, I remember when I first went up against him, he just came up and ‘Boom!’ He knocked my hands out and jammed my fingers. I was like, ‘I’m not tangling with this anymore.’ He is super strong. He is really good.”
Carman said that encounter happened last year and this year he said Rudolph has shown a lot of improvement with his technique and selling his moves.
“Last year, he was a lot of speed to power and snatch. Now he is working his hands more, ditching his shoulder. He has gotten really good,” Carman said.
Clemson will continue practice on Wednesday with its first full scrimmage of the spring. It will be practice No. 9 of the spring.
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