Post spring insider: Center

CLEMSON - The best thing to happen to the Clemson offensive line this spring was the emergence of Dalton Freeman at center.

The redshirt freshman from Pelion (S.C.) came along faster than anyone thought possible and by the end of the spring moved into a tie with redshirt sophomore Mason Cloy for the starting job.

When you throw in Thomas Austin and then the return of Barry Humphries this fall, the Tigers will have four very serviceable centers, something that could not be said last year when injuries decimated the offensive line and exposed Clemson's weakness. Former player-coach Bobby Hutchinson hung up the whistle on his coaching career for a little while longer and put back on the pads to help, and did a respectable job at the end of the year. But Clemson had to make adjustments with its blocking schemes because of its deficiencies at that position.

"You never get too excited in the spring, but I feel better," Clemson guards and centers coach Brad Scott said. "I am proud of their effort. We ran the ball a little bit better and we were a little more physical."

With Cloy and Freeman spending the majority of their time at center in the spring, the Tigers should be in better shape both from a skills standpoint and from a depth standpoint heading into fall camp.

Mason Cloy (6-foot-3, 310, redshirt sophomore, Columbia, S.C.)
About: Was a first-team freshman all-American by He finished second on the team in knockdown blocks with 57 and his average grade of 72.2 was fourth on the team. He started 12 games at guard and his 660 snaps were third on the team and one of the highest marks recorded by a freshman in school history.

The positives: Cloy is a year older and has a little bit more confidence. When linemen are a little older and more mature it means they react a lot better. When they are not sure of themselves, they play a little slow. He has spent the entire spring learning the blocking calls and learning how to read defenses. Comes off the ball well and technique is fundamentally sound.

The negatives: He is inconsistent and gets beat too much by fast and athletic defensive tackles. He needs to improve his feet.

Dalton Freeman (6-foot-4, 270, redshirt freshman, Pelion, S.C.)
About: Rated as the 13th best offensive guard in the country coming out of high school by and was a three-time all-state, all-region and all-area selection. The South Carolina Offensive Lineman of the Year his senior year, recorded 67 knockdown blocks and 37 pancake blocks.

The positives: Freeman had a great spring and has worked his way very much into the mix. The center position is up for grabs now between him and Cloy. He comes off the ball extremely fast and is very technique sound. He is also a very smart player and is a quick learner.

The negatives: He has improved his work habits, but coaches would still like to see him continue to get better. He also needs to continue to get stronger. Because he is a redshirt freshman, his overall knowledge of the offense and the blocking schemes are limited as compared to Cloy. Top Stories