CLEMSON – Just 11 plays into the Orange-White game, redshirt sophomore Stanton Seckinger became the next man up at tight end.
It’s an unlikely path considering where he started in TigerTown.
Out of the 2011 class, Seckinger, an Isle of Palms native, had offers from N.C. State, Memphis and Furman, but he ultimately committed to Clemson on the promise of a greyshirt, meaning he would have to wait until January 2012 to enroll.
A two-star rated receiver, the then 6-5 195-pound Porter-Gaud (SCISA) product totaled over 1,800 receiving yards with 26 scores in his senior season.
In a move possibly paying dividends this season, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney changed Seckinger’s path from grey-to-redshirt by spring of 2011, putting him on scholarship early to get to work.
The next spring came with more change, officially moving from wide receiver to tight end in the footsteps of former Tiger Brandon Ford. With that, Seckinger also saw the field – 88 snaps – catching his first and only touchdown against Maryland.
The tight end transition is coming along just fine, his offensive coordinator says.
“I think Stanton Seckinger is going to be a guy that’s going to make an impact this year,” Chad Morris said. “He’s up to about 238, which is where he needs to be. He can run and has great hands and is physical. He’s just making that transformation…I’m really excited about (him).”
That process had to accelerate, moving to the No. 1 spot after junior tight end Sam Cooper went down with a torn ACL early in the spring game. By all accounts, Seckinger put in the work size-wise, but maintaining it through camp is the key.
“Stanton has been weighing consistently over 230 this summer," tight ends coach Danny Pearman said. "It’ll be interesting to see if he can hold his weight through camp. Stanton’s worked extremely hard.”
Morris believes he has now found a home and a spot to thrive for seasons to come.
“He wants to play. He wants to contribute and he’s a great competitor and it’s where he sees himself,” said Morris. “In this system, that’s a great position to play.”
Working out three underclassmen at the spot in Cooper’s absence, getting the tight end position right will be vital to anything the Clemson offense wants to do this season.
“It’s very critical. He sets the tempo,” Morris said. “He’s got to be pretty much a dual-threat guy. You look at the last two guys we got have been pretty successful, Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford.
“We’ve got some really good ones that we’re excited about. It’s about getting them ready.”
After a quiet first year on campus, Morris said redshirt freshman Jay Jay McCullough has made a jump over the summer, but added “it didn’t take much for him to be better than the spring.”
An early enrollee competing for the job, the 6-6 Navarre (Fla.) native Jordan Leggett has to get in a game first – per Clemson’s rules – to get his time in the media spotlight. That might not be the worst thing right now, however, for what Morris is putting him through.
“I feel like he’s going to through a wide range of emotions,” said Morris. “He’s going to get mad, upset, pout and then he’s going to realize this is the way it is if he’s going to play so I feel like he’s going to be able to respond.
“And he has. He’s an unbelievable talent at 244 pounds. He came in here at 217 pounds and can run.”
Where Seckinger’s stumbling block could be on the physical side of the ball, Leggett, as a true freshman, has a few more question marks.
“How much of the offense can he handle?" Pearman asked. "Are we going to be limited on what Chad can call because we have him out there? How does he match up physically? Is he strong enough or stout enough to go against a Georgia defensive end?”
They are questions that each day we are closer to kickoff we are closer to finding out.
No down days on defense yet
Tigers put on the pads: Monday night, Clemson practiced in shells for the first time inching towards full-pads practices come Wednesday under the NCAA’s acclimatization period.
Junior defensive tackle Grady Jarrett says he could see the difference in intensity with the switch.
“When the pads go on, I was waiting on that,” Jarrett said. “Going on offensive lineman (without), you can’t go at them like you want to.
“I feel like everybody coming back where we left off in the spring. Everybody is working. It’s been a good day every day so far.”