Spring position battles to watch
Perhaps one of the best competitions this spring will come at left tackle where the Tigers must replace All-ACC performer Jackson Carman, who jumped to the NFL following the 2020 season.
That leaves an open competition between redshirt junior Jordan McFadden and sophomore Walker Parks. Last year, McFadden started at right tackle for the Tigers, while Parks was listed as Carman’s backup on the depth chart.
McFadden (6-2, 300) will likely start the spring at left tackle, but he and Parks will likely share equal reps at both left and right tackle as the coaches decide where the two fit the best on the offensive line.
The Spartanburg, S.C., native is Clemson’s most experienced tackle. He started all 12 games last season at right tackle, while recording 767 snaps. He has played in 29 games overall and has been in on 1,099 snaps in his career thus far. McFadden started on an O-line last year that allowed the fewest sacks per game in the ACC and was the only offensive line to allow fewer than two sacks per game.
Parks (6-5, 295) was a Freshman All-American last year after playing in 11 games and recording 199 snaps. He produced a season-high 48 snaps against Georgia Tech, but his freshman season will best be remembered for a memorable de-cleating block he had in the Tigers’ win over then No. 2 Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game.
His quickness and ability to move fast serve him well in pass protection and when getting to the second level on blocks. A couple of his best characteristics are his toughness and hard-nosed attitude. He plays with the type of aggressiveness and nasty mean streak that his coaches love to see.
Besides McFadden and Parks, sophomore Mitchell Mayes (6-3, 300) and freshman Marcus Tate (6-5, 330) will also work at left tackle some in the spring.
Mayes is tough, physical and plays with the type of nasty attitude you like to see in an offensive lineman. He is powerful off the ball with great push that helps him consistently drive defensive linemen backwards. Mayes’ strength is his run-blocking ability, but his quickness and agility give him the tools to be dependable in pass protection as well.
Tate likely will provide depth at right tackle, but he will cross train in the spring at left as well. How he does here will determine where he will practice the most in fall camp. Not only does Tate have superior size, but he is very athletic as well.
—Gavin Oliver contributed to this story
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