Kyle who?

CLEMSON — There is no secret that Dabo Swinney likes a good underdog story. He was once one himself.

That might be the reason why the former Alabama walk-on, now Clemson head football coach, is such a big fan of transfer wideout Kyle Johnson.

"He has looked as good as anyone," said Swinney about Johnson's production the first three days of spring practice.

Johnson was a reserve wide receiver who transferred to Clemson from East Carolina after he graduated. He came to Clemson just a few weeks before the start of fall camp as a graduate student.

While at East Carolina, he played in nine games during his redshirt freshman season, mostly on special teams, and then played in just two games for Skip Holtz in 2007 at wide receiver.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Charlotte native played in 12 games last season on special teams, including four at wide receiver.

With a new position coach and a couple of new openings to be filled at receiver, Johnson is making the most of his opportunity and is trying to be more than just a special teams player.

"He has really been impressive," Swinney said. "When he showed up here last July as a transfer from East Carolina, it was really hard for him to compete coming in here that late, but he has done a nice job out there as far as showing his versatility, picking up the offense and having good knowledge."

Johnson's surge is allowing the Tigers to have a pretty competitive spring at wide receiver.

Johnson is pushing Terrence Ashe and redshirt freshman Jaron Brown for playing time at one position, while Brandon Ford and Brandon Clear are giving everything they have to take some of Xavier Dye's playing time away at Aaron Kelly's old position.

Jacoby Ford, who caught 55 passes for 710 yards and four touchdowns last season, will start at the third position in a three wide receiver set in front of Marquan Jones, who more than likely is the fourth receiver when the Tigers should go four wide.

Ford has missed the first three practices this spring as he preps for the nationals on the track.

"Hopefully we can keep the competition going and find our top four or five guys," Swinney said. Swinney says the wide receiver position is a work in progress, but overall he has liked what he has seen.

"We have a group of guys that are kind of up and down," he said. "We have a good moment, a bad moment and a good moment. We are inconsistent. Of course we do not have Jacoby out there right now and he is the leader of this group at this point.

"Xavier Dye has shown signs the first three days that he could be the guy. He just has to be consistent. I'm pleased with our young guys as far as whom we have in the right spots."

The Clemson coaches have also been pleased with what they have seen out of Clear thus far. He had a nice catch for the offense along the far sideline in Wednesday's practice.

"He is a guy that needs to start having some success so I was happy to see that," Swinney said.

Swinney is also anxious to see if Ashe, a walk-on, makes the most out of his opportunity this spring.

"His time has finally come. He is going to have the opportunity to show he can play with the big boys," the Clemson coach said.

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