Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney likes what he has seen from the Tigers’ pair of true freshmen running backs, Demarkcus Bowman and Kobe Pace, in practice leading up to the 2020 season.
Both Bowman, a former five-star recruit from Lakeland, Fla., and Pace, a former four-star prospect from Cedartown, Ga., enrolled at Clemson this summer ahead of fall camp.
“They’ve been very impressive,” Swinney said following the Tigers’ practice Thursday.
Bowman and Pace each ran into the proverbial “freshman wall” in fall camp while trying to keep up with all the offensive install, according to Swinney, though they are starting to break through the wall as Clemson’s season opener against Wake Forest on Sept. 12 draws near.
“They both have a lot to learn,” Swinney said. “As we have piled on the installation throughout camp, I’d say they both hit a little bit of a wall. But they’re catching on. Tony (Elliott) has done a great job with those guys. They’re kind of getting some sea legs back under them here, and I know they’ll be two guys probably happier than anybody to get to game week and start getting into a little less of a schedule. I think that’ll help them a lot.”
Bowman is coming off a senior season at Lakeland High School during which he rushed for 1,570 yards on 142 carries, an 11.1-yard average, and earned first-team postseason All-American honors by Sports Illustrated and USA Today. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder averaged 142.7 yards per game and logged at least 100 yards in nine of 11 games while scoring 24 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Pace concluded his senior campaign at Cedartown High School with 1,471 yards rushing on 211 carries for a 7.0-yard average and added 25 receptions for 358 yards for 1,829 total yards from scrimmage. The 5-foot-10, 215-pounder finished the year with 12 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and two more scores on kickoff return.
Based on how the freshmen duo has performed in preseason practice, Swinney believes both Bowman and Pace have a chance to contribute for the Tigers this season.
“They’re doing great,” Swinney said. “Both those guys will have an opportunity to help this team.”
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said following Clemson’s first scrimmage of fall camp in mid-August that he was happy with where Bowman and Pace were at that point, adding they are further along in their development than the average freshman.
“Pleased with where they are,” Elliott said. “Obviously, y’all know every year it’s always a challenge with those 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 have a long way to go.”
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