Leadership 101

CLEMSON - Dalton Freeman has occupied a leadership role since he stepped into the starting center job midway through his redshirt freshman season.

After three years of working alongside strong leaders like Thomas Austin, Chris Hairston and Landon Walker, he's the only senior offensive lineman at Clemson.

"It's a lot different. I've always kind of had the leadership role as center. But, now that it's all on my shoulders, it's been a little bit more challenging," Freeman said after Wednesday's practice. "The good thing is all of our guys really want to do well.

"Tyler Shatley is a very lead by example kind of guy. We're going to be fine. I'm really excited about the progress we're making. We've still got a long way to go, but we're looking pretty promising."

Shatley, a redshirt junior, was converted from defensive tackle to right guard in January.

"Shatley's been the story of the spring. I can't explain how excited I am about him. I think he's going to be the best one we've had in a while," Freeman said.

Hurry-Up, No-Huddle 101 started when Christmas break ended.

"The first day class started, I was meeting with [Shatley] one-on-one," Freeman said. "We were meeting with all the mid-year guys and taught them the entire offense. He was up there on his own, before I could get there, watching it."

Freeman is one of two returning starters along the offensive front. Brandon Thomas, who's working at both left tackle and left guard, started most of last season at left guard. Kalon Davis has drawn positive reviews for his work at left guard.

Shaq Anthony, Isaiah Battle, Joe Gore, Gifford Timothy and Reid Webster are in the mix for spots in the two-deep at guard and tackle. Ryan Norton and Jay Guillermo are working for second-team center duties.

Patrick Destefano, Oliver Jones, Battle and Guillermo arrived as mid-year enrollees in January. So there were plenty of other new faces to go along with Shatley in the offensive line meeting room.

"We've had a pretty good start," Freeman said. "Today was a little rough. We did half practice, half scrimmage, working a lot of situations. It was the first-time we've done that, but, so far, so good."

He listed the situations, "first-down, played second. Had third-and-short, fourth-down, second-and-long and then played third."

With so many newcomers to the offensive line, Dabo Swinney has enjoyed having Freeman there to help school the youngsters, on and off the field.

"It's like having a coach, literally," Swinney said. "He talks to you like a coach. He's like having a 10th assistant coach. It's amazing. He graduated last August. He's a special guy, one of the rare guys that come along every now and then."

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