Looking at the early eight

A little over a week ago there was question as to whether or not Clemson would have all eight of their early entrants for spring practice.

With Kevin Dodd receiving the OK from the NCAA on Tuesday, the Tigers will have eight freshman on the roster when practice opens in March.

Dabo Swinney and company welcome the eight early enrollees with open arms -- most of the early 2012 entrants will compete for playing time at positions that have been vacated by graduating seniors or are in need of depth.

CB Travis Blanks
The four-star is the highest rated of the Tigers' early eight. Classified as a safety by Scout.com, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound freshman will actually compete for playing time at cornerback, and that's good news because Clemson needs help at the position.

Though Coty Sensabaugh is the only cornerback gone from last season's team, the Clemson secondary was torched by a pass-happy West Virginia squad in the Orange Bowl. Blanks is the big, physical kind of cornerback that defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison likes to have in his stable.

RB Zac Brooks
Also a four-star, Brooks is listed as a wide receiver by Scout.com. But he will play running back at Clemson.

Brooks' addition is valuable, given the amount of questions marks that are behind returning starter Andre Ellington.

"He is a guy I'm really excited about," said Dabo Swinney. "He catches the ball incredibly well. I think we can use him in a lot of different ways."

Listed at 6-2, 180, Brooks has the frame to add more weight, which could potentially allow him to be more of a power back.

OT Isaiah Battle
A two-time first-team all-state pick while at The Blue Ridge School in Virginia, Battle spent last fall at Fork Union Military Academy. He originally signed with Clemson in 2011, but was placed at the prep school level to improve his academic standing.

Listed by Scout.com as a four-star post-grad prospect, Battle will enter Clemson listed at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds.

A guy that CUTigers first laid eyes upon at the 2010 Dabo Swinney Football Camp, Battle could potentially play left tackle for the Tigers. Though it could be too early, Battle may be in contention for the starting left tackle job in 2012.

C Jay Guillermo
Clemson was the first school to offer Guillermo, and it just so happened to come on National Signing Day in 2011. Five days later, he was the Tigers' first 2012 commitment.

Guillermo, rated as a three-star, finished as the No. 6 center by Scout.com in the 2012 class.

With Dalton Freeman back to his starting spot, Guillermo is expected to compete with Ryan Norton for the backup job. Guillermo could also work into the mix at guard.

"Jay Guillermo is a center who we're really going to need, for depth at that position, and he can play guard, too," Swinney said. "He's a highly rated guy and we're excited about him. He's been committed to us for a long time."

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