Spiller dives into running back depth chart, philosophy

Spiller dives into running back depth chart, philosophy

Football

Spiller dives into running back depth chart, philosophy

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One of the biggest question marks coming into the spring was at the running back position.

For the first time in three years, Clemson does not know what it will have at running back now that Travis Etienne is off to the NFL.

The Tigers have a veteran in senior Lyn-J Dixon. They have a couple of other guys in Chez Mellusi and Kobe Pace that got some good experience last year. There is a third-year guy in Michel Dukes, as well as graduate senior Darien Rencher. Then there are the freshmen … Will Shipley and Phil Mafah.

However, though Clemson has wrapped up 11 practices this spring, it appears there is no pecking order in place when it comes to the depth chart at running back.

“I really have not sat down and said this is the guy who is the number one starter,” new running backs coach C.J. Spiller said. “This is the spring. This is an evaluation standpoint, right now. Each and every coach does something different. It is my job to make sure I am putting those guys in there to be successful. It has been a very healthy competition.”

Spiller says his seven players are competing hard and so far, they have come to work each and every day with the understanding they all bring something different to the team.

“They are all going to help us be successful,” he said. “Once you understand that as a player, you get better as a player. I would not say we have a pecking order that says this guy is on the depth chart as the number one guy and this guy is number two. I think, I can put anyone of those guys in there and they will be ready to go and play.

“But we still have a long way to go before we have to come out with an official depth chart, but that is the beauty of this sport. All the guys in that room know that someone has to run out there first. Then some guys have to be backups. But what I always tell the guys is that they are always just one play away from being the starter.”

Spiller said that is the mindset he played with when he and James Davis were battling it out for playing time back in his playing days at Clemson.

“That is the mindset I always had as a player and that is what I want to instill into these guys that in this game you are always one play away from being a starter,” the new coach said. “So, don’t look at it just because you are a backup that you don’t have a chance to be a starter because you just never know what could happen in practice, what can happen in the game. So, if you don’t have that mindset then you will never be ready to be a starter.”

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