By Philip Sikes // Athletic Communications
SUNSET, S.C. — As he prepares for his seventh full season as Clemson’s head coach, Dabo Swinney sat and held court with members of the local media late Wednesday for about 50 minutes following a hot afternoon on the golf course at The Reserve at Lake Keowee.
Swinney’s session ended a long day of previewing the 2015 Clemson football season with all of the Tiger coaches, including each of his nine assistants. The media asked many of the hot-button topics and went over the team’s personnel, from the top of the depth chart to the bottom.
Below are some of the thoughts that Swinney shared with the media, as the team draws nearer to the opening of camp on Tuesday, Aug. 4.
• He began by sharing the news all Clemson fans wanted to hear, saying quarterback Deshaun Watson has been cleared “100 percent” by team doctors for camp.
• Expectations are high for his offensive line. “Robbie (Caldwell) finally has his room the way he wants it, with guys that love to play football, study film, lift weights and enjoy being offensive linemen.” He added that he hopes Eric Mac Lain and Joe Gore become the “Reid Webster types” of the 2015 unit, players that have the versatility and leadership to have big senior seasons.
• The tight end group has been challenged to up its productivity and be a difference-maker. He believes Jordan Leggett is “primed to have a big junior year” and Stanton Seckinger is “as committed a guy as we have on this team.” He also expects redshirt freshmen Milan Richard and Cannon Smith to figure into the mix.
• He hopes to see his return game increase its productivity as well. Swinney said incoming freshman Ray Ray McCloud “can really move and be a weapon for us on punt returns, but it’s a different deal doing it in front of 85,000 when you have to make quick decisions on the run.”
• Swinney was asked to name a few underrated players that he expects to make a big leap in 2015. “Offensively, I hope it’s Charone Peake. You just pull for guys that refuse to give in. He’s looked good coming off the injuries. On defense, I think T.J. Green and Cordrea Tankersley can be those guys. We love what we’ve seen from both of them.”
• He said despite losing a ton of senior leadership on the defensive side of the ball, he and the staff view players like Ben Boulware, B.J. Goodson and Shaq Lawson as starters, because they played behind talented veterans such as Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward and Vic Beasley.
[View the story “Media Day 2015” on Storify]
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