Strong statements

CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables both offered ringing endorsements for redshirt freshman outside linebacker Dorian O'Daniel.

The former four-star recruit from Maryland is a serious contender for a spot in the nickel/SAM rotation.

"Dorian O'Daniel is as advertised," Swinney said. "He's a very, very talented young prospect, can fly. He's physical. He loves hitting. He just had a really good fall preparing for his opportunity this spring."

Venables added, "He's athletic. He's come a long way in just his football and fundamentals. He played mostly on the offensive side of the ball in high school.

"Had a great bowl preparation, that extra work was extremely beneficial to him. He's got very high football intelligence, he's sharp. He's physical, has a little edge to him, so very competitive, very coachable. He's shown a lot in just a short amount of time."

Along with O'Daniel, there are several other options at the position, including Travis Blanks, T.J. Burrell, B.J. Goodson, Martin Jenkins and Korrin Wiggins.

"I really like the group of guys that we have there," Venables said. "We have different strengths. A hungry group with good athletic ability, good strength to them, instincts, cover skills, play in space, so it's a good group to choose from."

As a freshman last season, Wiggins had 14 tackles in 292 snaps.

"We'll start out with Wiggins kind of being our nickel/SAM in the spring," Swinney said. "We'll cross train him at nickel and safety, a good football player.

"A lot of times, we don't see two-back sets. We've kind of recruited that way, if you look at the body-types at that position."

Burrell, who checks in at 5-11, 215, had six tackles in 80 snaps as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

"T.J. Burrrell, he's a guy that's got to grow up, get committed. He's one of those young men that's very talented. His work ethic, his commitment is going to have to improve if he's going to reach his potential," Swinney said. "Very talented, so I'm excited to see him. He can run, he's strong, he's physical. He's got a good tool set. He's just got to really apply it on a daily basis. He's got to grow up this year, his sophomore season."

Blanks played the nickel/SAM position as a freshman before moving to free safety as a sophomore. And most of Jenkins' work has been in the nickel role. Both are on the shelf this spring with injuries.

"We always have the ability, when we get into those bigger sets that we face from time to time -- B.J. Goodson has played some SAM for us. He's a bigger body, can get on the line with a tight end," Swinney said. Top Stories