Here are just some of the notes we took at the first spring practice Saturday morning. Some of the players that stood out include Kelvin Grant, Anthony Waters, and of course freshman All-American cornerback Justin Miller. Detailed notes on a whole range of players are contained in this report!
Gerald McCloud has bulked up considerably and looks ready to play, the only problem is now he'll have to learn how to play rover. He saw limited action in the 7-on-7 drills with the third team defense, but from a physical standpoint, he looks ready to play. He's tall, has some nice size to him, and has great speed coming in as a redshirt freshman.
Anthony Waters has also added some muscle mass and looks ready to contribute right now. One play saw him display his outstanding athleticism when he leaped way up in the air to deflect a pass at the last possible second. He looked fast out there, but then again, everyone did because they weren't wearing pads.
Tye Hill started at corner in several 7-on-7 drills, but was beaten badly by Kevin Youngblood with regularity on the deep ball. Hill also had a tendency to get too deep down the field on his coverage. Obviously, he's learning a new position it's now like we should expected for him to come out and be an all-world performer.
Sit down before you read this, but Kelvin Grant looks like the best receiver on the field. How he won't be on the first team after the end of spring- I don't know. Clemson's receiving corps are going to get a lot better with him on the field next fall.
New linebackers' coach David Blackwell is a breath of fresh air. He was easily the most animated coach on the field Saturday morning. He gets in your face when you make a mistake, and pats you the back when you do your job well. It's obvious that he's excited to be part of the Clemson family.
It was also great to watch Tommy Bowden take over coaching the wide receivers. He was almost as animated as David Blackwell, and he turned up the heat on anyone that even bobbled a ball in his hands. Most of Bowden's emphasis was on route running and catching the ball with your hands.
Justin Miller looks even bigger than he was at the Tangerine Bowl in December. He's locked and loaded and looks just as impressive on the practice fields as he did last season. On one play, he baited Willie Simmons into throwing to Kevin Youngblood on a post pattern then went up and broke up the pass almost effortlessly. (Keep in mind he was giving up almost 6 inches.) Miller also taunted the receivers saying at one point that he was "coming over there soon." (Meaning he wants to play offense.)
Of course, everybody wants to know about Duane Coleman, the redshirt freshman running back out of Naples, Florida. We watched him in several drills, but he never really had the opportunity to showcase his running style. Once the pads go on next Wednesday, we should know a lot more about his ability.
Yusef Kelly looks huge, but he was also wearing a big knee brace on his left leg. Again, it was hard to gauge any noticeable adjustments in his running style considering the nature of the drills of a first practice.
Another player that looked noticeably bigger was cornerback Buddy Williams. While Tye Hill may have the start on one side right now, Williams may easily work himself into that role before the end of spring practice.