Dabo Swinney says unsettled depth chart 'a good thing' for work-in-progress Tigers

Stanton Seckinger gets nod at tight end, three-man rotations listed at all four defensive line spots

Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas blocks defensive end Tavaris Barnes during the Orange-White Spring Football Game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas blocks defensive end Tavaris Barnes during the Orange-White Spring Football Game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Write it down in pencil.

Dabo Swinney released Clemson's post-spring practice depth chart on Thursday, complete with few surprises and a handful of 'either/or' designations.

Call it unsettled, if you like, and Swinney will take the description as a compliment - especially in regard to the Tigers' offensive line.

The new depth chart lists rising senior Brandon Thomas as the starter at left tackle, with rising sophomores Eric Mac Lain and Isaiah Battle second and third, respectively. Battle got most of the first-team reps during spring practice, in hopes that he would win the job outright, allowing Thomas - Clemson's most experienced and versatile lineman - the option to move elsewhere.

Battle at third-team left tackle, rotation

None

"I'm really OK with our OL not being very settled right now," said Swinney. "We've got a lot of competition, and we didn't have that at this time last spring. We had a lot of drop-off last spring...This time it's just much more competitive, and that's a good thing. I think it will carry over into the summer. As far as the depth chart, it's just what's on paper - it doesn't mean a whole lot right now."

The depth chart lists David Beasley or Kalon Davis as the starter at left guard; Ryan Norton, backed by Jay Guillermo, at center; Tyler Shatley, backed by Reid Webster, at right guard; and Gifford Timothy, backed by Joe Gore, at right tackle.

With Sam Cooper sidelined indefinitely because of an ACL injury, rising sophomore Stanton Seckinger gets the nod over freshmen Jordan Leggett and Jay Jay McCullough at tight end, with rising senior Darrell Smith in the designated 'fullback' roll.

Swinney says he expects Seckinger, a converted wide receiver, to be up to 225-230 pounds by the time fall camp begins, and for Leggett to play at 245 as a freshman.

"We think all three tight ends are going to be outstanding players for us," Swinney said. "What we lost with Sam is the experience factor of a fourth-year guy who had figured it out. With the guys we've got, the drop-off is in knowledge. We'll probably be asking a little more of Darrell, but we'll be OK."

The Tigers' two-deep at wide receiver includes walk-on Matt Porter as Charone Peake's backup at one position, with Sammy Watkins backed by Martavis Bryant and Adam Humphries backed by Germone Hopper.

Tigers ahead of the game after spring

"That's six guys that I feel good about - guys we can win with," Swinney said. "And we have three more coming."

Rod McDowell, D.J. Howard and Zac Brooks are listed 1-2-3 at running back, with Tajh Boyd, Cole Stoudt and Nick Schuessler at quarterback.

The defensive chart lists a three-deep rotation at defensive tackle, with Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams and Carlos Watkins at one spot, and Josh Watson, D.J. Reader and Roderick Byers at the other. Three-man rotations are also listed at the defensive end spots, with either Corey Crawford or Tavaris Barnes starting at one position, backed by Shaq Lawson, and Vic Beasley at the other, backed by Kevin Dodd and Martin Aiken.

The Tigers' four veteran cornerbacks are listed as co-starters, while Travis Blanks and Robert Smith are the starting safeties, backed by walk-on Taylor Watson and first-semester freshman Jadar Johnson, respectively.

Swinney again described the secondary as his major 'concern.'

"The major issue is depth," he said. "But that's getting ready to change. We've got six veteran guys who've played and played well at times. You'd like to see those guys take the next step of improvement.

"Other than that, we'll have a lot of question marks, but we'll also have a lot of pieces to draw from."

Overall, Swinney said the Tigers had a productive spring.

"I thought we had a good spring," Swinney said. "And as I told the team, it can be a great spring if we take what we did and apply it this summer and build in some areas we need to. Guys need to come back smarter, and they all have specific things in their fundamentals and techniques we're asking them to do.

"If they'll do those things, it will have been a great spring."

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