So far in fall camp, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has been impressed by what he has seen from a couple of the true freshmen that enrolled this summer – a touted offensive lineman, and one of the talented running backs he will be blocking for over the coming years.
Elliott spoke highly of offensive tackle Walker Parks – a former four-star prospect from Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Ky., who was ranked among the top 50 players in the 2020 recruiting class regardless of position – and gave Parks (6-5, 275) perhaps the best compliment one can bestow upon a player at his position.
“I guess the biggest way I can describe that is I don’t notice him in practice,” Elliott said during a Zoom call with reporters this week. “So when you’re a left tackle, and it’s kind of like Mitch (Hyatt) – when you’re not noticed, you’re doing your job well. So obviously he processes it well and I think he’s able to understand the big picture and get the nuances. So, so far, I’ve been impressed. We haven’t called his name much because he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. So, definitely has the right demeanor, has the right ability to learn. Now, we’ve just got to get him up to speed with everything that we’re doing and then see how he responds when the bullets start flying live.”
Elliott, who doubles as Clemson’s running backs coach in addition to his OC duties, also loves what he has seen thus far from one of the players he works closely with every day in fall camp – running back Kobe Pace from Cedartown, Ga., the same little town that produced former Georgia star and current Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb.
“Kobe, I tell you what – knock on wood – I just keep getting lucky down in them small country towns, finding one of those under-the-radar kind of guys,” Elliott said. “But if you watch, when you guys get a chance to see Kobe, you’ll see that for a big guy, he’s not your typical big guy. Man, he’s very light on his feet, has the ability to make all the cuts.”
As a senior at Cedartown High School in 2019, Pace posted 1,471 yards rushing on 211 carries for a 7.0-yard average and added 25 receptions for 358 yards, finishing the season with 1,829 total yards from scrimmage, 12 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and two more on kickoff returns.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder also completed 3-of-4 passes for 100 yards and two scores while tallying 33 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss with 4.5 sacks, on defense en route to winning Player of the Year honors in his 5A region.
Elliott said Pace is a little bit different from former five-star and fellow Clemson freshman running back Demarkcus Bowman in that Pace comes from a school where he was asked to play multiple positions besides running back, including wide receiver, quarterback and linebacker.
“He was on a small team, so he had to do a lot of things,” Elliott said. “So, he’s got a great football mind. He picks up on things very fast. He’s got a little bit more size on him, so when he steps in there in pass protection, even though he may not know what he’s doing, he’s got a little bit of girth and size on his side. But really been impressed. Just his demeanor, he’s very quiet. But when he gets on the practice field, man, the kid loves to play, he loves to practice, he loves to prepare. He’s got a very focused demeanor, so really pleased so far with what I’ve seen out of Kobe.”
— Photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications
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