With Braden Galloway suspended by the NCAA, Garrett Williams retiring from football and Milan Richard and Cannon Smith moving on to bigger and better things after graduation, the tight end position at Clemson was quickly depleted.
In the spring, the coaches moved Luke Price from linebacker to tight end to help starter J.C. Chalk with depth, while freshman Jaelyn Lay got a head start learning the position after enrolling in school in January.
However, still in need of depth, the Clemson coaches are hoping freshman Davis Allen, who enrolled at Clemson in mid-June, could be ready in time to help the team this coming season. Prior to camp, it seemed as if the 6-foot-5, 250-pound freshman was right on schedule. Reports said he was impressing the upperclassmen in 7-on-7 drills and he was grasping the offense at a rapid pace.
But a week before fall camp started, Allen injured his foot and it has caused him to miss all of camp. Head coach Dabo Swinney was hopeful the Calhoun, Georgia native was going to get back before camp ended, but with just two practices left it seems as if that window has closed.
What does that mean for Allen this season?
“One thing about Davis is that you can tell that it is important to him,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “We have not seen a change in his engagement at all. The walk-throughs that we have in the evenings, we are able to get him in there and at least get him lined up and put him through some of the plays and see if he can identify his fits.
“He comes from a really, really good program. He has a really good football IQ.”
Still, the coaches have no idea where Allen is physically and that is a cause for concern. When he is released by the medical staff, he still has to get acclimated to hitting per NCAA rules, which means he has to go two days in shorts and two days in shells before he can practice at full speed and in full pads.
“I think from the mental standpoint, he is going to be where we want him to be,” Elliott said. “Now, can he do the physical things we want him to do?”
Regardless of where Allen is physically, the Tigers will more than likely need him to get up to speed as fast he can when he does return to practice. With only three guys on the depth chart, Clemson will need a fourth tight end to help with depth, and in certain formations it likes to use in the running game.
“Davis has been doing everything mentally and he has been doing all the walk-through stuff. We are just still waiting for them to cut him loose where he can physically do it,” Swinney said. “It’s a shame he missed camp, but he is probably a guy that is going to probably have to help us and I am hoping that he can. Until we see him do it full speed, it is hard to be sure. I think he has the right mindset and we will see.”
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