Promoted on the fly based on his performance against Georgia Tech, junior middle linebacker Spencer Shuey is making an already-strong position even better, according to Dabo Swinney.
Asked about the Charlotte, N.C. native's new starting role during the ACC coaches' teleconference on Wednesday, Swinney said confidence is at the heart of Shuey's emergence as one of the Tigers' most effective and consistent defensive players.
"We thought he played great in the Georgia Tech game," Swinney said. "Stephone (Anthony) has been great, too. We just felt that Spencer out performed him. We try to reward performance and hold these guys accountable weekly.
"It's been good because I think Stephone has responded. But Spencer has followed it up now with a couple good ballgames and is playing really well for us...He's a fourth year guy. He's really smart and he really understands what we're doing. He committed himself physically, and he's gotten his body in great shape and is playing very fast.
"A lot of that is confidence in the knowledge of what we're doing. I think that's been a real positive. It's created the kind of competition that we like."
As Duke prepares for the Tigers on Saturday, Blue Devils' coach David Cutcliffe said Shuey looks to be a player who's emerged as a perfect fit for Clemson's defense.
"I think they're probably at a point where they're learning the new system, learning their personnel, and getting a feel for what was the best combination," Cutcliffe said. "For a lot of us, it takes a while to learn your people.
"(Shuey) is a youngster that I'm very familiar with him. He's from Charlotte, and he's a good football player. But again, he fits what they're doing. He has performed well."
Swinney said unwavering commitment has been the key to Shuey's improvement over the course of his career.
"Spencer always been a good football player," Swinney said. "He had a lot of learn, redshirted, and didn't get a lot of experience at linebacker as a redshirt freshman and sophomore, but he's been a great special teams player since he's been here and has been probably one of the most respected guys.
"When you have some guys that don't pan out, usually they're not quite as committed as they need to be; but Spencer has always been a committed guy. Guys like that, if they continue to work, usually they end up being very solid players for you as juniors and seniors."