CLEMSON — Clemson Football begins preseason training Friday and is focusing on some intriguing areas. Coach Dabo Swinney and his staff have some decisions to make for important seasons as a middle linebacker, offensive guard, and defensive tackle.
Here are Clemson’s most intriguing position fights:
For the first time in what feels like forever, Clemson doesn’t have James Skalski jumping around in the middle of the field, yelling orders and attacking people.
Skalski played for the Tigers for six years and was only hanging around a few weeks ago, prompting Swinney to say, “You’re still here?”
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At linebacker, Clemson is strong, three straight and three in the middle.
With Trenton Simpson and Barrett Carter on either side, it’s a contest between juniors Keith Maguire and LaVonta Bentley and sophomore Jeremiah Trotter Jr., whose talent has been compared to his father, four-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter becomes .
Having another coach like Skalski on the field could be just as important as talent.
Marcus Tate admitted he was overwhelmed as a freshman in last season’s opener against eventual national champions Georgia and no one can blame him.
The whole year has been a difficult learning experience, but he comes into this season as Clemson’s top interior designer with the greatest job security. On the other side of the center Will Putnam are fellow starters in junior Mitchell Mayes and sophomore Bryn Tucker. They’ll take turns on first-team offense, and so it could be in the September 5 season opener against Georgia Tech.
More:Despite the new position, Will Putnam is considered one of the best in the country
On Clemson’s offensive line, backups and even backups to the backups appear to be more of a starter than at other positions. The Tigers train crosswise to better plug holes that tend to pop up regularly. Redshirt freshman Dietrick Pennington and redshirt students Trent Howard and John Williams have many options.
The appetizers are undisputed.
Sophomore Bryan Bresee and senior Tyler Davis might give Clemson the best duo in the country. They are top NFL prospects. Bresee, who only played four games last season due to a knee injury, is considered an early first-rounder.
Sophomore Payton Page could have as much advantage for Clemson on defensive tackle as anyone and he’s serious, down from 380lbs to 335lbs. But Page’s group top also includes redshirt juniors Ruke Orhorhoro and Etinosa Reuben, and redshirt students DeMonte Capehart and Tre Williams. Orhorhoro, who replaced Bresee last year, led the team in defeat tackles.
Who comes from this pack?
Todd Shanesy covers Clemson athletics for the USA TODAY Network.