Post Spring insider: Tight ends

CLEMSON — If the Orange and White game is any indication of anything, then Clemson is going to throw the football a whole lot more to the big guys with the soft hands.

Michael Palmer and Durrell Barry combined to catch eight passes for 115 yards in the annual Spring Game last Saturday with Palmer hauling in a game-high five receptions for 86 yards, including a long pass of 38 yards from Willy Korn.

Last year, Palmer did not catch more than two passes in any game and did not have a single reception in the last three games of the year. Of course that had a lot to do with the problems on the offensive line as well as he was asked to stay in and block more instead of running routes.

Palmer finished the year with 12 catches for 160 yards and three touchdowns, while Barry caught just five passes for 93 yards.

Michael Palmer (6-foot-5, 250, senior, Stone Mountain, Ga.)
About: Palmer has shown he has the ability to be a good pass-catching tight end. His 13.3 yards per catch were tops for a player with more than 10 catches last year. He is also a very good blocker and was used more as such the last two seasons due to the Tigers' issues on the offensive line.

The positives: He has soft hands and runs very good routes. Is a great blocker. In the Spring Game, he showed he could be used as a weapon if left open. A very smart and fundamentally sound player, Palmer has 30 career catches for 318 yards and four scores. Had a very good spring, which concluded with his big day in the Orange and White Game.

The negatives: Isn't the fastest tight end in the world. Probably isn't the best athlete at the position, but he makes up for his speed and other inadequacies with hard work and making sure he is fundamentally sound.

Durrell Barry (6-foot-4, 245, redshirt senior, North Charleston, S.C.)
About: Barry is probably the more talented of the Tigers' two most experienced tight ends, but he is just now coming into his own. The former standout at Fort Dorchester has caught eight passes for 146 yards in his career and has just one touchdown which came in the 2006 Music City Bowl.

The positives: Has very good hands and has good speed. Made some plays early last season before the issues of the offensive line took the tight end out of the game plan. Barry had a good spring and looks to be focused on a good season. The coaches spent the majority of the spring working on his techniques. The Orange and White game was his best performance of the three major scrimmages as he caught a couple of mid-range passes and the 3-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Parker. He is a true threat to score if catches the ball in the open field.

The negatives: Still needs to improve on his fundamentals and needs to get stronger. He isn't as good at blocking as Palmer, but he has made huge strides. His dedication was in question before last season, but he turned that around before the season opened up and has really impressed the coaches with his hard work since. Is still working on becoming a better route runner.

About: Allen has the skills to be one of, if not, the best tight end Clemson has ever had. He is a combination of both Palmer and Barry. He will start the season as the third tight end, but could find himself playing some if he is able to grasp the offense. Had a good spring, and caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Parker in the second scrimmage of the spring.

The positives: He has very good hands and can be an explosive player when he gets the ball in his hands. Caught 68 passes for 1,257 yards during his senior year of high school. In the spring, he made good strides with his pass blocking and learning.

The negatives: He still has a ways to go in learning the offense, plus his blocking can be better. He has gained almost 30 pounds since coming to Clemson, but the coaching staff would love to see him get a little stronger to help with his blocking. He is a good route runner, but has to understand the offense a little more. Top Stories