Clemson Practice Observations for First Time in 2021

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney allowed the media to view the first 30 minutes or so of practice Friday for the first time in nearly a year.
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Clemson football hit the practice field for the sixth time in the 2021 spring practice, but it marked the first time the local media was invited to view a Tiger workout in nearly a year. 

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney allowed the media to view the first 30 minutes or so of practice. 

"Great to see some of the media out here today for the first time in a long time, Swinney said. "That was a real positive thing."

Here are several observations from Friday:

The first five periods of practice included mostly position drills. 

  • The Tigers had just two quarterbacks: starter D.J. Uiagalelei and walk-on Hunter Helms. Taisun Phommachanh was unavailable Friday. Swinney said he was in protocol. 
  • Clemson had just four cornerbacks on defense: Mario Goodrich, Andrew Booth Jr., Nate Wiggins and Fred Davis III. It was a lonely group at the far end of the defensive field. However, there were a number of active safeties working out beside them. 
  • Running back Will Shipley already looks the part of a college player. The early enrollee worked seamlessly in drills and has the size at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds to help immediately. 
  • The other freshman rusher, Phil Mafah, looked great. He suffered a leg injury late in his final season of high school but moved around well and wasn't in a limited jersey.
  • Running back Chez Mellusi wore green Friday, but when a teammate ran past him ribbing him about it, the junior said it wasn't his decision to be limited. 
  • Lyn-J Dixon played the role of veteran, setting up a drill with the other running backs. 
  • Friday marked the first time the media has seen Justyn Ross in nearly a year. He moved really well and was fluid in all his routes while wearing a yellow jersey. The top pass-catcher from 2019 missed all of last season after having surgery but looked comfortable back on the field. 
  • Frank Ladson Jr. also wore yellow and did not work to participate in receiver drills. Brannon Spector was out,
  • The hardest working coach on the field Friday was Swinney. He was relentless in drills while working with the receivers and coaching them up. 
  • What looks like a big bounce-back season for the pass-catchers, this Clemson group has much more of a basketball-team look to it with Ladson, Ross, Joseph Ngata, E.J. Williams, Dacari Collins and Beaux Collins all listed at 6-3 or taller. 
  • Center Ryan Linthicum, another early enrollee, just has the look of a nasty offensive lineman who's looking to hit somebody. He rotated snaps on special teams drills. 
  • Despite strict COVID-19 protocols, Clemson's practice still looked and flowed like it always has as the staff and players are quite used to it by now. 

The Tigers will ramp things up Saturday with scrimmage-like situations.