When Jaelyn Lay first got to Clemson, the coaching staff was expecting the freshman tight end to come in and pick everything up. However, that did not happen during the spring.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Atlanta native struggled a little more than they thought, and it surprised them.
“Coming out of the spring, we were expecting one thing and did not quite see what we thought,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said after Friday’s practice, the Tigers seventh of fall camp.
But when the coaches stepped away from practice and started to watch more film, they got a better perspective on what they are asking the true freshman to do.
“You realize he is playing the tight end position,” Elliott said. “He is the formation adjuster. He is the run game fitter. He has to run all the pass routes. Here is a guy who played wideout, and no he happens to be in every aspect of the offense.
“So maybe the expectations were a little unrealistic for a guy coming in the door.”
However, Elliott says Lay put in the work over the summer and now they’re seeing his natural skill set starting to take shape.
“He is catching the ball well. He is moving well. He is fighting. He is tough,” Elliott said. “You are starting to see those things because the game is a little bit slower because he has worked with Garrett (Williams) over the summer and he has had J.C. Chalk in his ear. So, he is a lot more confident. You are seeing that.
“He is a guy that hopefully we can get back on the field and get back to working. I am encouraged where he is.”
Offensive tackle Jordan McFadden is moving people.
“Light years. You can just see it. Not many guys have the ability that Jordan has,” Elliott said. “He can just move people. He is not the biggest guy, but he has leverage and strength and explosiveness. He can move people. That is only if he is playing fast. That is what we are seeing. He is playing fast because it has slowed down for him. He understands what he is doing.”
Which freshmen can help Clemson this year?
“We will not know until we cut them loose (in the scrimmage). Everything is being controlled right now. Tomorrow is going to be a flat-out scrimmage,” Elliott said. “We are going to get off the field. We are going to work the mechanics of our communications process and we are going to let those guys play. I will not feel comfortable until I see those guys in a live situation in the stadium with the coaches off the field.”
Elliott excited about Hunter Rayburn’s potential.
“Rayburn, I am excited about his future. I think he is really, really dialed in at center right now. You can tell that he gets it. He is very athletic. (Will) Putnam is just a mauler. He loves it. He is a lot like Gage. He has that mentality. He is nasty. Things are still moving fast. Kaleb (Boateng) is better. He has improved from the spring. Things are still moving a little bit fast. We got him playing a little bit at tackle at time, trying to find where the right spot is for him. It is probably moving the fastest for him.”