Ready for Action

CLEMSON - It is not often that a redshirt freshman on the offensive line can come in and maybe compete for playing time at the Bowl Championship Sub-division level, but that appears to be the case for Columbia native Mason Cloy.

C Mason Cloy profile

The Spring Valley High School product made big strides last season on Clemson's scout team, and offensive line coach Brad Scott thinks Cloy could help the football team out as early as this fall.

"The last month of fall practice it was very noticeable that Mason was catching up with the speed of the game," Scott said. "He is learning how to use leverage a little bit better. He is an exciting prospect."

And the Tigers need some excitement on the offensive line. For the second straight year, Clemson finds itself having to replace three starters there, including All-Americans Barry Richardson (left tackle) and Chris McDuffie (left guard).

Usually it takes close to three years before an offensive lineman can be productive at a major college program.

"These are talented kids and they will play a lot of football at Clemson, but how much will they play this year? That's very difficult to say," Scott said. "A lot of them take three years, but some redshirt freshmen can contribute, but most of them are not ready. I think Mason might be.

CUTigers outlook: Cloy will work the majority of the spring at center, but Clemson offensive line coach Scott really likes him as "a football player."

Cloy is a great athlete that works hard and has a great attitude. Scott thinks it would be a waste to just have the redshirt freshman used as a backup with very little playing time at center.

Cloy could get some work this spring at guard, but it appears most of the work there will begin in August when fall practice starts.
"He is one of them that I'm excited about and I can't wait to see how it is going to work out." Cloy will spend much of the spring at center where Scott hopes he emerges as Thomas Austin's backup. Scott also hopes Cloy can help the Tigers out at guard.

"My plans for him this spring are to train him as a backup center, but also train him as a guard. I think he has the ability maybe next year to play as a redshirt freshman, we will see," Scott said. "We don't want him getting lost behind Thomas Austin at center because it is hard to alternate those centers during the course of a game.

"He might be one of my best guard prospects. That's how I do it, most of my guards can play center and vice versa so we will teach him one thing first and then we are going to play another position. He might be a guy we want to have on the field and I have to find that out."

Cloy was an Associated Press All-State pick at Spring Valley where he was selected as a Shrine Bowl participant. He set a school record with 175 pancake blocks, including 57 as a senior. Coming out of high school, he was rated as the No. 11 overall player in South Carolina and the No. 10 overall center nationally by A Max Emfinger All-American, he chose Clemson over Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

To show what kind of athlete Cloy (6-3, 300) is, he was an all-state tight end for the Vikings as a junior when he caught 16 passes for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"He has worked hard to continue to gain strength in the weight room," Scott said. "He came to us as a very strong athlete and had good work habits."

Scott is interested in seeing how Cloy will command the offense at center this spring. Then that will tell him if he can afford to move inside to guard.

"The first thing he has to do is learn the offense and the center's calls and set us in the right protections and put us in the blocking schemes," Scott said. "This is a very complicated offense. Because it is a no-huddle offense the linemen don't really know what the formations will be or end up.

"All this trading, shifting and moving that we do, eventually we get set, then the linemen have to look around and figure out the defensive front and all.

"What am I looking for? Can (Cloy) take command of the offense? Can he be a guy that can pick it up and how quickly can he pick it up? And then, let's just see him play hard. He is going to make a lot of mistakes and I have said this a lot, there is a big price for inexperience."

And if he can handle that, then Scott knows Cloy will be available at guard.

"I have to sure up are guard situation," he said. "We lost two senior guards right there and Barry Humphries has played some guard, but I have to get more consistent play and I have to have another starter at offensive guard so it has to come from somebody and some of our third and fourth year guys better step up." Top Stories