Clemson heads into the 2020 season with what is arguably the deepest stable of running backs in the country. Back-to-back ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne is back for his senior season and heads up a crowded running back room that features seven backs that are currently on scholarship.
The two newest additions to the group are former five star recruit Demarckus Bowman and former three star prospect Kobe Pace. While the ultra-talented Bowman received most of the attention during the recruiting process, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott warns fans not to sleep on Pace.
Elliott has developed quite the track record when it comes to identifying running backs that specifically fit the Clemson offense. Even some of the kids that come from the smaller, more obscure towns that the other big schools may not be recruiting yet.
"I tell you what, knock on wood, I just keep getting lucky down in small country towns," Elliott said. "You know, finding one of those under the radar kind of guys."
At 5-foot-10 and 216 pounds, Pace generally fits the mold of the bigger, power backs. However, looks can be deceiving and Elliott says to not be fooled by his appearance.
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"When you guys get a chance to see Kobe you'll see that for a big guy, he's not a typical big guy," Elliott said. "He's very light on his feet, has the ability to make all the cuts."
Elliott also has been impressed by the true freshman's football I.Q. Coming from a small high school in Cedartown, Georgia, Pace was asked to do a lot and played all over the field.
"A little bit different from Demarckus (Bowman)," Elliott said. "He came from a system where he had to play wideout a little bit, he had to play linebacker, he had to play quarterback. He was on a small team, so he had to do a lot of things. So he's got a great football mind, he picks up on things very, very fast."
Like most freshmen running backs, Pace still needs some work when it comes to learning all the nuances of the offense, particularly the pass protections. Overall however, Elliott has been extremely pleased with what he has seen from the youngster early on in camp.
"He's got a little bit more size on him," Elliott said. "So when he steps in there in pass protection, you know, even though he may not know what he's doing, he's got a little bit of girth and size on his side."
"Really been impressed with just his demeanor. It's very quiet, but he gets on the practice field man, and kid loves to play, loves to practice and loves to prepare. He's got a very very focused demeanor so really, really pleased so far with what I've seen of Kobe."