State of the tight ends

SUNSET, S.C. - Danny Pearman was feeling really good about the tight ends as spring practice was coming to a close in Clemson.

Then the thing that every coach hopes and prays against happened: a starter was lost to an injury.

Sam Cooper, the clear-cut No. 1 tight end on the Clemson roster, suffered an ACL tear in the first quarter of the Orange and White spring game.

"That's part of it. That's the thing as a college coach. You've always got to be ready for an injury. You've got to be ready for graduation. Its next man up," Pearman said. "We've got four good guys battling and a couple of young freshmen that are going to join us in a couple of weeks."

The four guys still left in the mix are Darrell Smith, Stanton Seckinger, Jay Jay McCullough and Jordan Leggett. The two freshmen Pearman referred to are preferred walk-ons Zach Riggs and Sean MacLain.

Pearman shared his thoughts on the five tight ends that were in for spring practice.

Cooper

"Sam's working extremely hard. The surgery went good. He seems to be [fine] -- I'm not a doctor, so I don't know -- I just check with them and ask if he's been working hard.

"Everybody says yes. That will come when it come, whenever it does. He'll be back as soon as he can. He's put in work this summer."

Smith

"He will open a hole that will win the game. He'll give us an extra rack of downs, which gets the clock milked off. That guy gets unsung for the dirty grunt work and special teams play. That's why he has a lot of respect from the team. I really believe that.

"As a senior, it's come full circle. I look forward to him being standing up and being able to contribute for us."

Seckinger

"Seckinger has been weighing, consistently, over 230 this summer. It'll be interesting to see if he can hold his weight thru camp. That's one of the things I'm encouraged by. Stanton's worked extremely hard."

McCullough

"He was a high school tailback. You talk about a guy who hasn't been a big route runner. It's easier catching a handoff than a catch, running routes, put your hand on the ground and block. You get the ball and run with it.

"It's taken a little while with him, but he's applied himself and worked hard this summer, too, so I'm interested to see where he's at, especially the first week in camp. It will be real critical for him."

Leggett

"He's had a good summer. How much he plays will be based on how he does in fall camp."

"How much of the offense can he handle? Are we going to be limited on what Chad can call because we have him out there? Then, for a physical matchup, how does he matchup? Is he strong enough or stout enough to go against a Georgia defensive end?"

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