Prove It: Jordan McFadden
Editor’s note: This story continues a series that, for various reasons, is a “prove it” season for certain Clemson players. This week, we’ll take a look each day at a Tiger who faces a make or break year.
Dabo Swinney believes his starting offensive line's "got a chance to be special" in 2020.
One of those reasons for the Clemson coach's optimism is right tackle Jordan McFadden, a redshirt sophomore stepping into a starting role for the first time in his college career.
"He's outstanding," Swinney said. "He's going to be as good as we've had here. He's a really, really talented player."
There's a lot of confidence in a player who's seen a total of 332 career snaps. McFadden played in three games while redshirting in 2018 and then was a backup tackle in 2019, playing 315 snaps in 14 games.
It wasn't long into fall camp of 2018 that Swinney felt like Clemson had "hit a home run" with McFadden. He added that the Spartanburg native had "all the right stuff."
It was a strong, early evaluation of McFadden, who came to Clemson from Dorman High School as a three-star prospect. He ranked 14th overall in the state, according to 247Sports recruiting rankings.
His pedigree might not be as strong as some of the other O-linemen Clemson has recruited in recent years, but McFadden has always received rave reviews from the coaching staff.
However, he's filling some big shoes heading into his third year with the program, which is usually a "show-me time." Tremayne Anchrum, a senior starting right tackle last year, saw 842 snaps and earned first-team All-ACC honors before being drafted in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Rams. Junior Jackson Carman ate up 798 snaps on the other side, so McFadden was fortunate to get what he did.
Now, he'll be asked to prove the confidence of the coaches with production. McFadden will need to hold up as well as Anchrum, play the bevy of snaps, clear paths in the run game and efficiently protect QB Trevor Lawrence.
He did a pretty good job of doing that last year, though.
However, there isn't much experience at all behind him. According to Swinney, there was a sharp dropoff in the second-team offensive line, so McFadden will be one of the most relied on players in 2020.
"There isn't any doubt about him," Swinney said. "We lost a great one in Tremayne, but McFadden is as good as we've had."
If that's the case, Clemson is in great shape. McFadden could be a true breakout player and with three years of eligibility, his play would allow younger players to develop slowly, the way he McFadden was allowed to develop.