Man in the middle

CLEMSON — A year older and a year wiser, Dalton Freeman is less than two weeks away from his first full year as Clemson's starting center. And head coach Dabo Swinney wouldn't have it any other way.

"Dalton Freeman, he's just the epitome of what you're looking for at that position," he said. "He quarterbacks that offensive line and does a tremendous job."

Freeman played 547 snaps over 13 games in 2009, his first season at the position. He took over the starting job after five games and started the final nine as a redshirt freshman.

"He rarely has a bust. He's a very, very smart player…just wise beyond his years," Swinney said. "He's just a sophomore eligibility-wise, but it's almost like having a junior or senior out there calling the shots."

Pretty stout praise for a guy who was rated as a four-star guard by Throughout his high school days at Pelion and during his first year on campus at Clemson, Freeman played guard.

He admitted at Sunday's media/fan appreciation day that changing positions wasn't as easy as he's let on.

In fact, Freeman sees a different player when thinking back to this time a year ago.

"I think I've changed a lot. A lot of it's due to experience…when I got redshirted, I was playing guard. That spring, I got moved to center. Really, that spring and the first couple of games, I was just starting to understand our offense," he said. "As a center, you really have to be the quarterback of the whole offensive line and set all of the protections and the blocking schemes I really wasn't too sure about all of that."

"As I studied the game and spent more time watching film, I really started to feel comfortable with it. Now, it's just second nature to me. I know about everything. I don't have to be thinking about everything and I don't have to think as much. I don't have to be as timid."

Swinney likened Freeman's progression over the course of the 2009 season to that of Kyle Parker's.

Swinney also spoke of Freeman's pedigree and make up as two factors that have allowed him to succeed on such short experience.

"He's a coach's son, just loves to play the game. He loves to compete, cannot stand to let you down or let his teammates down. He's a pretty good guy to have anchoring that front," Swinney said. Top Stories