Right at home

CLEMSON - Though Thomas Austin is considered the best offensive lineman on the team and Chris Hairston might be the next best in line, rising sophomore Antoine McClain is moving up fast.

"He really had a good spring," Clemson guards and center coach Brad Scott said.

Indeed it was a spring where McClain, who was recruited to Clemson to play tackle, made exceptional progress. When camp opens in August, he will more than likely be listed as the first-team right guard with Wilson Norris, Barry Humphries and Kenneth Page backing him up.

"If he will learn to play at low pad level, he is going to be really good," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "He is a big guy. If he can bend, he can be as good of a lineman that we have had here in a long time.

"He has that potential.

" McClain has that potential after losing 20 pounds during the winter weight program. At 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, he said he is a lot quicker too.

"I'm kind of shocked that I can play guard to be honest with you," he said. "Guards are a lot quicker, but I'm hungry and I'm playing where I can play and where I can fit in."

He is fitting in quite well. Swinney and Scott say they both like his explosion off the ball and the way he is able to move the line. Though he recruited McClain as a tackle out of Anniston Ala., Swinney isn't at all surprised to see the way McClain is playing at guard right now.

"He has a big ol' rear on him. You like to have those guys," the Clemson head coach said. "That's the kind of guys you want in there and playing those even fronts with the three techniques. You like to have a guy that can move a three-technique.

"I think he can play tackle too, but I think he is more valuable and more comfortable at guard."

McClain agrees, which is why he took the time to lose some weight and try to make himself quicker in the winter.

"At tackle I was over stepping a lot on the ends. I guess I have a better advantage over at guard," he said. "I lost a good bit of weight and I just took the time to see what Coach Scott was saying and what he really wanted me to do.

"It's is pretty good, playing guard. I have gotten quicker and I like it. When I first started, I knew I had to get my mind right and make sure I keep it."

It doesn't look like that is going to be a problem.

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