Playing in front of fans in Death Valley for the first time during Saturday’s Orange & White Game, freshman offensive lineman Marcus Tate faced stout competition from some of Clemson’s D-linemen but showed he was up to the challenge.
Tate, a midyear enrollee who arrived on campus in January, was tasked with blocking guys like Myles Murphy and Tyler Davis but held his own and helped spring a couple of big runs for the White team that beat the Orange, 14-13.
Dabo Swinney said following the spring game that Tate’s performance this spring has put him firmly on the two-deep depth chart heading into the summer.
“He’s one of those guys that looks like he’s been here for a year or so,” Clemson’s head coach said. “So, we’re really excited about Marcus. He’s going to help our team. He’s easily a guy that’s in our two-deep right now, and he’s earned that.”
A former unanimous four-star prospect from Sunrise, Fla., Tate would be finishing up his senior year of high school right now had he not enrolled early at Clemson.
But despite his youth and inexperience at the college level, Swinney could tell by watching Tate this spring that he is a more advanced offensive lineman than the typical freshman at the position.
“He’s an unusual kid in the offensive line,” Swinney said. “He’s still technically a high school senior as a midyear. But he’s unusual, and physically he’s gifted, and he’s further along than most freshmen coming in, in the OL. It’s an incredibly difficult position to play.”
Swinney added that what makes Tate so unique is his mental capacity, knowledge of the game and how quickly he is able to pick things up.
“It’s really not easy to do. It’s definitely not the norm,” Swinney said. “He’s very uncommon when it comes to that part of his development at this point. You never know until you start coaching a guy where they are. Some guys physically have got to get better, or some guys mentally are a ways away. Some guys, it just doesn’t come as easy to them. It’s so much, especially at that position. It’s the hardest position out there, and he’s just been natural.”
Tate’s versatility is another plus for him as he vies for early playing time this fall, after what Swinney believes will be an important summer for the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder.
“He can play left tackle, he can play either guard, he can play right tackle,” Swinney said. “So, he can play four positions on our team, and that’s huge for us to not just go play him physically, but mentally he’s really gifted with how he can process things.
“So, going through the summer for him is going to be huge, getting down in the weight room. But he’s a real bright spot.”
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