With future in mind, McFadden cross-training up front

With future in mind, McFadden cross-training up front

Football

With future in mind, McFadden cross-training up front

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While Blake Miller’s emergence has been the biggest development along Clemson’s offensive line during the preseason, there’s been some other movement for the Tigers up front.

Miller is at the top of the depth chart at right tackle for the time being, putting the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder in line to be Clemson’s first true freshman to start a season opener at tackle since Mitch Hyatt did it in 2015. Should Miller get the start against Georgia Tech on Labor Day night, it would likely come opposite veteran tackle Jordan McFadden, though the senior hasn’t repped exclusively at left tackle during camp.

McFadden revealed Monday that he and Marcus Tate have swapped positions at times on the left side of the offensive line. McFadden has taken some reps at guard. When that’s happened, Tate, who’s projected to start at that spot, has moved outside to tackle.

“We’ve definitely done that a couple of times,” McFadden said.

A fifth-year senior, McFadden is entering his second season as the starting left tackle after making the switch from right following the 2020 season. But at 6-2 and 305 pounds, the Spartanburg native has a body type that projects more as an interior lineman at the next level. 

At 6-5 and 325 pounds, Tate won the starting job at left guard as a true freshman last season but is a prime swing candidate that could play either inside or out. Tate played tackle during the spring game when Clemson coach Dabo Swinney purposefully held some of his veteran players, including McFadden, out of the spring game to get an extended look at some of the Tigers’ youngsters.

“Just getting ready for the future for me playing inside,” McFadden said. “And just getting Marcus some reps at tackle.”

It gives first-year offensive line coach Thomas Austin some potential flexibility to work with, though it remains to be seen whether or not McFadden actually reps inside once the games start. McFadden has also dabbled at center in the past, but he indicated the attrition would have to be pretty dire at that position for him to ever end up playing there in a game.

“Maybe in a case of a terrible emergency,” McFadden said with a smile.

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