Figuring out the freshmen

CLEMSON - Just over a week ago, Tyshon Dye was a mortal lock to avoid a redshirt during his first season at Clemson.

An injury to his lower back has changed those odds significantly. Dye, who hasn't practiced in a week, could spend the 2013 season as a redshirt. So could fellow freshman running back Wayne Gallman.

However, Dabo Swinney has yet to finalize any plans for the two freshmen running backs.

"We've still got some discussions and some evaluations that we've got to talk about. We really like both those guys. We've just got to decide," Swinney said. "They're capable of playing, both of them, no doubt.

"The problem with Tyshon is he hasn't practiced in a week. He got out of the gate really, really good, was kind of bringing a presence that we don't have. He hasn't practiced in quite a while now. Hopefully, we'll get him back soon. If not, we'll redshirt him and just go from there.

"Same thing with Gallman -- Gallman has been incredibly consistent throughout camp, has competed very well."

At the minimum, Chad Morris would like to have four running backs at his disposal.

Roderick McDowell, Zac Brooks, D.J. Howard and even walk-on C.J. Davidson could suffice in 2013. But both freshmen have made their presence known.

"Wayne Gallman is having an exceptional camp. I've been really pleased with him," Morris said. "Tyshon started out with a blaze of fire and kind of tapered off, kind of burned out a little bit. He had a nagging little injury and just hasn't been back to speed yet over the last few practices."

One position freshmen will definitely play is defensive back.

Korrin Wiggins is working at the nickel/SAM position. Jayron Kearse, who suffered a shoulder injury, is penciled in as Travis Blanks' backup at free safety. Jadar Johnson is making noise to take the No. 2 spot after Robert Smith at strong safety. Then, of course, Mackensie Alexander is a likely contributor at cornerback.

"Korrin Wiggins is definitely going to be a guy that's going to play," Swinney said. "Jayron is still a little raw, but we feel like he's going to be a guy in the mix…Jadar, I thought, started really slowly in camp, especially for a guy that went through spring. He's really kind of refocused himself and has competed much better, so he's in the mix."

It's still up in the air if Alexander will be the only freshman cornerback to see the field this fall.

"All of those guys have competed well," Swinney said. "We've got to decide who's most ready. We've got several of them that can really benefit from a redshirt. It's going to be a close call on a couple of them. We've got to have enough bodies and enough depth to do what we need to do."

While there are plenty of bodies to do what they need to do at linebacker, Ben Boulware has been too good to ignore. Swinney said Boulware is on the redshirt bubble.

"He's one of those guys that special teams could get him over the hump. He's a heck of a backer, but he's not where a couple of those guys are -- he's not far…he might be a guy that leads our team in tackles on special teams," Swinney said. "He's close."

Shaquille Lawson isn't close. There's no doubt that he'll play at defensive end, assuming he stays healthy.

Fellow end Corey Crawford said Lawson has taken some steps in the right direction since spring practice.

"Way more focused," Crawford said. "In the spring, he'd just got here. He was still trying to feel his way around. Now, he's more familiar with the plays. You see him more focused, more wanting to get better everyday. I feel like he has gotten better since the spring."

Like Lawson, freshman wide receiver Mike Williams is expected to play.

"He's had a heck of a camp for us. He's going to help us," Swinney said. Top Stories