Clemson’s pair of true freshman running backs, Demarkcus Bowman and Kobe Pace, took part in their first scrimmage as Tigers on Saturday at Death Valley after enrolling this summer.
Both backs received reps with the second team, and each performed well and flashed their potential according to offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.
“Those guys are continuing to do good, continuing to progress,” he said following the scrimmage. “I’m excited to look at the film to see exactly how they were doing. But I thought overall, we ran the ball well, and they had a couple of plays where they were in there and they showed some flashes.”
The scrimmage environment naturally suited Bowman, a former five-star recruit ranked among the top running back prospects in the country coming out of Lakeland (Fla.) High School.
“Demarkcus, he’s more of a scrimmage type of guy,” Elliott said. “When we’re out there running around in practice, things are moving a lot faster. But when he is out there on his own, back in his element, you saw him put his foot in the ground, make a couple plays. He looked good back there doing some kickoff return stuff for us.”
Bowman’s speed and explosiveness are his calling cards, but he showed during the scrimmage he isn’t afraid to be physical and run downhill as well.
“You saw Bowman have a chance to put his foot in the ground, and what I wanted to see was in a live situation, how he was going to run between the tackles, and he put his foot in the ground and he drove his nose up in there, which was good,” Elliott said. “Then you saw him hit the second level a couple of times, and it’s just a matter of time before he breaks one.”
As for Pace, a product of Cedartown (Ga.) High School, he displayed the power rushing style he is known for and ran like Elliott expected him to during the scrimmage.
“I thought Kobe looked really good between the tackles, like I thought he would,” Elliott said. “Big, physical guy. Did get the edge a time or two.”
“Kobe just continues to show his consistency,” Elliott added. “He’s a big guy, but he’s very smooth. That’s probably why he gets some of the comparisons to a James Davis. Very soft hands.”
While Bowman and Pace still have a lot to learn as they get accustomed to Clemson’s complex offensive system, Elliott believes they are further along in their development than your average freshman.
“Pleased with where they are,” Elliott said. “Obviously, y’all know every year it’s always a challenge with them young backs because of the way our system is structured from a protection standout, from an alignment standpoint and just all the multiple route adjustments that we make in the passing game. It’s really a challenge for them. But I was encouraged to see those guys for a scrimmage. So, I would say both of those guys would probably be ahead of where typical freshmen are but still got a long way to go.”
–photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications
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