As the Tigers work their way through their second week of practice, there are several position battles worth keeping an eye on.
And across the board, Dabo Swinney says competition is making the Tigers a better team.
“Anytime you have the ability to promote and demote, that’s a good thing for your team,” Swinney said. “That’s something I like about this team right now. We’ve got a lot of guys on the edge, competing hard for jobs – on the offensive and defensive lines, at linebacker, in the secondary, and at quarterback.
Here’s a quick look at some of the points of competition:
Backup tight end: Redshirt freshman Stanton Seckinger, signed as a tall, prolific pass-catcher out of Porter Gaud School in Charleston, S.C., continues to get rave reviews from the coaches. He’s battling Sam Cooper and fellow redshirt freshman Eric Mac Lain for the spot behind starter Brandon Ford. First-year freshman Jay Jay McCullough will join the competition later this week after being approved for admission by the NCAA Clearinghouse on Monday.
Also in the mix is Darrell Smith, the team’s designated fullback. “Darrell is a guy the staff loves,” said Swinney. “He’s our thumper – a very physical guy. We may ask him to run the ball a little bit, from time to time.”
Backup quarterback: Sophomore Cole Stoudt continues to be challenged by first-year freshmen Chad Kelly and Morgan Roberts.
Kick returners: The coaches continue to work a large group of players both on punt returns and kickoff returns. DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Adam Humphries and Jaron Brown are in the mix to return punts, while Watkins, Brown, Andre Ellington, Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant are returning kickoffs.
Backup middle linebacker: Junior Spencer Shuey emerged from spring practice as the Tigers’ No. 2 middle linebacker behind Stephone Anthony, and his work during the first week of practice probably has solidified that position.
Bandit end: Swinney says Vic Beasley is battling Corey Crawford for the starting ‘bandit’ end spot – and not just because Crawford has been nursing an ankle injury. “With Corey and Vic, we’ve got some great competition,” Swinney said. “Corey has a battle on his hands.”