An eye on the true freshmen

There is plenty of excitement in the air as Clemson opens preseason camp on Friday evening at 5:45.

For fans, one of the most anticipated parts of camp is tracking the progress of the newly minted freshmen. Here's a look at several first-year players that could see the field this fall.

CB Mackensie Alexander
After just a month on campus, the guy has already earned the respect of several upperclassmen. When a group of seniors assembled to visit with media-types at Dabo Swinney's house last month, Alexander was allowed to tag along. Tajh Boyd told Swinney to be ready for Alexander to have a preseason camp similar to the one Sammy Watkins had in 2011.

RB Tyshon Dye
Running backs coach Tony Elliott thinks Dye could work in a few play-specific packages, sort of like Mike Bellamy did two years ago. At 217 pounds, Dye brings an element that Chad Morris has been looking for since he got to Clemson in 2011 -- a blend of size and speed.

DB Jayron Kearse
For now, Kearse will play safety and figure into the conversation at the nickel/SAM position. But as he continues to grow in the Clemson strength program a position switch could be in store. Kearse, who weighed in at 206 on Thursday, has the frame that could see him grow into either an outside linebacker or rush end. With sub 4.5 speed, Kearse has the wheels to be an effective defensive back in 2013.

Shaq Lawson was a three-star prospect coming out of Daniel High School.
DE Shaquille Lawson
This should be Lawson's sophomore season at Clemson. After not qualifying out of Daniel High School, he spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy. Ready to roll for spring practice, Lawson didn't make a huge splash, but he managed to land a spot on the released depth chart. He's working at the right defensive end position, the same spot Corey Crawford and Tavaris Barnes are playing

TE Jordan Leggett
Leggett vaulted himself into the conversation for early playing time with a solid showing during the spring. Tight ends coach Danny Pearman recently said that Leggett wasn't guaranteed early playing time with a healthy Sam Cooper still in the fold. Well, now that Cooper is sidelined with a torn ACL, that's not really an option anymore. Regardless, Leggett's weight is up to 244, and he's still 6-6 with solid speed and ball skills.

DON'T SLEEP ON - DB Cordrea Tankersley
Like Lawson, Tankersley spent a year at Hargrave before enrolling at Clemson. Unlike Lawson, Tankersley wasn't on campus for spring practice, but he made it just in time for the Maymester. Tankersley will begin his career at safety, but he's capable of playing wide receiver at this level. His speed, length and grit could make him a viable option in the two-deep. At the very least, Tankersley could be an early impact special teams contributor. Top Stories