Tigers back on the field Monday

When class resumes on Monday, Clemson will be back on the field to wrap up the final half of spring practice.

The Tigers are scheduled to train on Mar. 28, 30 and April 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7. Two scrimmages are already in the books, with one more expected, plus the Orange and White spring game, which is set for 4 p.m. on April 9.

CUTigers.com takes a look at the spring position battles and what went down in the first half of practice.

Quarterbacks quandry
Early enrolled freshmen Cole Stoudt and Tony McNeal continue to battle for the right to backup Tajh Boyd.


Tony McNeal and Cole Stoudt (pictured above) have shared reps with the second team offense throughout the spring, and that will continue once practice starts on Monday. (Roy philpott)
Throughout the early part of spring practice, neither Dabo Swinney nor Chad Morris both said they believed one was further along than the other, but neither would publicly commit to a leader for the No. 2 quarterback job. Most believed that Stoudt was the leader in the clubhouse.

In the second stadium scrimmage, the final practice before break, McNeal had a strong outing, reminding everyone that the race is still far from over.

He completed five passes for 110 yards, including a 60-yard strike down the seam to Joe Craig. McNeal also hooked up with Marquan Jones for a score.

McNeal and Stoudt have shared reps with the second team offense throughout the spring, and that will continue once practice starts on Monday.

Once practice wraps up on April 9, we still believe Stoudt will have the edge for the No. 2 spot heading into the summer.

Running with the opportunity
Duke point guard Kyrie Irving went down with the same injury that Andre Ellington suffered against Boston College last season. The Blue Devil freshman rushed back to the court for March Madness, even though he wasn't fully recovered.

Spring practice, the other March Madness, pales in comparison, so Ellington remains sidelined.

He ran on solid ground for the first time since last fall on the Tigers' first day of practice. His regimen was limited to only straight ahead running with a little bit of agility work. Once practice resumes, Ellington will graduate to planting and cutting.

In the meantime, Rod McDowell, D.J. Howard and Demont Buice have been given an opportunity to shine. With Ellington on the shelf and incoming freshman Mike Bellamy still in high school, this spring's three-way battle figures to be an audition for one of the three to be the third back this fall.

Of the 24 carries for 106 yards put up by running backs in the second scrimmage, he rushed six times for 60 yards.

So far, it appears that Howard is leading that charge.

Price current on dues
Pundits had Brandon Thomas pegged as the starter at left tackle as spring practice began three weeks ago. If he wasn‘t ready, then David Smith could move over from left guard.


Pundits had Brandon Thomas pegged as the starter at left tackle as spring practice began three weeks ago. (Roy philpott)
Phillip Price was placed with the first-team on the first day of practice and remains in that spot. It remains to be seen how long he'll stick, but he won't go down without a fight.

The redshirt senior first enrolled at Clemson as a preferred walk-on tight end. Since his move to take, which Swinney suggested before the start of the 2009 season, he's added nearly 50 pounds and is up to 300. He carries it well, too.

It's only halfway through spring practice. There's an entire summer and fall camp for things to change. As Phillip Price continues to get comfortable with the position, his work ethic and mean streak will ensure that he's ready to battle over the long haul.

Beyond his years
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele isn't one to liberally dish out compliments. But he has no problem doing just that when talking about redshirt freshman defensive back Bashaud Breeland, who he compares to Marcus Gilchrist.

No Tiger played more snaps than Gilchrist in Steele's first two seasons at Clemson. The future pro was a versatile piece of the puzzle, though he only had one interception during his college career. Gilchrist played cornerback, safety and nickel back, or Star, according to Steele's nomenclature.

Steele believes Breeland is capable of playing any of the three positions that Gilchrist played in 2009 and 2010. Breeland is in serious contention to start opposite of Xavier Brewer at cornerback, the position he's played throughout the spring.

Earlier than expected
The solid play at defensive end from early enrolled freshmen Cory Crawford and Joe Gore has allowed Tavaris Barnes to go ahead and move inside to defensive tackle.


Corey Crawford (pictured above) and Joe Gore's strong starts have allowed Tavaris Barnes to be moved to the interior defensive line. (Roy philpott)
Barnes' move from end to tackle was inevitable. He told CUTigers.com last season that a move to tackle would go down in a year or two. Instead, he was shifted down earlier this spring. Now, he's pushing Rennie Moore for time at defensive tackle, and is likely to lock up a spot on the two-deep depth chart.

Though Clemson lists its defense as a 4-3, the Tigers actually utilize a fair share of odd-man fronts, so the line between a 4-3 and 3-4 can be blurred. Still, Barnes' move inside provides depth where it's desperately needed.

Operation: Through The Uprights
Leading place kicker Chandler Catanzaro is back. So is Spencer Benton, who's also in the mix for time.

We do know that Dawson Zimmerman is going to hold and Phillip Fajgenbaum will snap the ball to him.

As for who'll be kicking it, that's currently a stalemate.

Again, someone has the rest of the spring to separate. Then, it's on to the summer, and freshman Ammon Lakip enters the competition.


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