While certain newcomers have generated more buzz than others so far this spring, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn’t want to leave anyone out when discussing the Tigers’ midyear enrollees.
And not because he felt like he had to.
Seven practices into the spring, the Tigers’ veteran coach said all 14 of the team’s early high school enrollees have caught his eye at one point or another. There’s still a summer, preseason camp and actual games to be played come the fall, but from what Swinney has seen so far from the group, it’s one that he feels like Clemson has collectively hit on.
“They’re what we thought they were,” Swinney said. “I think they’ve all flashed at some point. Nobody that we’re disappointed with, and nobody that I’m like, ‘Ah boy, that’s going to take a while.’ They’re all as advertised.”
The ones that continue to generate the most conversation is the defensive linemen, a group whose performance so far has matched its lofty recruiting rankings.
At the top of that list is defensive tackle Peter Woods, the highest-rated signee in the Tigers’ 2023 recruiting class. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder has drawn early praise from numerous teammates and assistant coaches. Swinney on Wednesday fell in line when he opined that Woods is further along at this point of his development than a couple of his former blue-chip players at the same position, Christian Wilkins and Bryan Bresee, were as true freshmen.
But fellow tackle Vic Burley as well as edge defenders Stephiylan Green and TJ Parker have also impressed with both their size and skill sets.
“Hard to miss those guys,” Swinney said. “They’re as advertised. That’s for sure.”
On the other side of the ball, Clemson’s latest high-profile quarterback addition, Christopher Vizzina, has spent most of the spring repping with the third team behind Cade Klubnik and Hunter Helms. Vizzina looks the part at 6-3 and 220 pounds, and Swinney said he liked seeing him operate with poise during the team’s first scrimmage Wednesday. Swinney has also been pleased with what he’s seen out of offensive linemen Ian Reed, Harris Sewell and Zack Owens.
“Those three linemen are really going to be good players,” he said. “I’ve noticed all of them at one time or another.”
At receiver, Noble Johnson has been a bright spot among the newcomers. The 6-3 Texas has been repping primarily on the outside, where Swinney said his physical talent has helped make up from some of the mental strides Johnson still has to make.
“He’s got all the ability in the world, and I think we knocked it out of the park,” Swinney said of Johnson. “He’s still got a lot to learn in terms of putting it together, but he can really run and change direction. He’s got a great body for the position.”
Linebackers Dee Crayton and Jamal Anderson Jr. “really stand out” as they go through their first spring with the Tigers, Swinney said. Defensive backs Kylen Webb, Khalil Barnes and Shelton Lewis, who had a pick-six in Wednesday’s scrimmage, are doing the same.
“Really that whole group of midyears is as advertised,” Swinney said. “I’ve noticed every single one of those guys.”
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