Finding his fix

CLEMSON - For a football junkie like Travis Blanks, finding a fix wasn't too difficult this spring, even though he was sidelined because of knee surgery.

Blanks tore his ACL in the regular season home finale against The Citadel. Following surgery in the offseason, he was forced sit out the entire spring as the final stages of the rehab process began.

There isn't much life left in that procedure.

"I should be able to cut it loose, full-speed by this summer," Blanks said, earlier this spring. "Definitely, by fall camp, I should be back in full effect."

As a freshman, Blanks was Clemson's starting nickel back. Named second-team All-American by Scout.com, he had 51 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception in 563 snaps over 13 games.

The numbers took a dip in 2013 when he moved to free safety. In 475 snaps [11 games], Blanks finished the season with 35 tackles and two pass breakups.

Something was missing.

"I just didn't feel like I cut it loose. I would say I was so concerned with making a mistake," Blanks said. "My freshman year, I cut it loose. I didn't care about making mistakes. Last year, it was just something in me that just wasn't cutting loose.

"I had all of the ingredients to do what I need to do: size, I could move good enough to perform my job and all that. I just didn't cut it loose like needed to. I left a lot of potential opportunity out there, but that's behind me."

Slated to move back to the nickel/SAM position, Blanks anticipates a return to the 2012 form. Part of that, he thinks, is attributed to how he spent his time during the spring.

"I get to see football from a different perspective. I get to see what the coaches see. I get to see what I didn't get to see every single day when I was on the field. I get to break down film more," he said. "I'm the eye in the sky, per se, like the coaches are now. I get to learn more about the game, learn more about me as a player. I get to sharpen my mental game.

"That's something that's [much] needed. That's the opportunity through my situation."

Blanks wanted to make the best out of something he wasn't all that happy about having to deal with this spring.

"It hurts, but it's a lot of opportunity through my situation, too. That's what I'm focusing on, the opportunity that I have with my situation," he said.

The rehab will have also afforded Blanks to opportunity to bulk up. For now, the plan is to have him playing upwards of 220 pounds this fall.

"That's just something that we'll have to find out. That's not set in stone or concrete, anything like that. Just being 210-211, getting back moving and stuff, I do feel pretty good," Blanks said. "But if I did get to where I didn't feel fluid in my movements, I could always get back down to what I needed to be. We're just kind of feeling our way through the process right now."

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