CLEMSON – In extensive meetings over the weekend, there was never a question T.L. Hanna product Ben Boulware was hitting the field this season for the Tigers.
“Boulware has been very impressive,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Monday. “The thing about Boulware – do we have to have him at linebacker? Probably not, but he’s been incredibly impressive for a freshman coming in and learning. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes for one. He changes our team on special teams.
Clemson Camp Report - 8/19
Tigers getting healthy
“He’s not just another guy on special teams. He is a difference-maker from day one. I just think he helps us win.”
The praise for the Anderson native didn’t stop there.
“He’s just the ultimate football player,” Swinney said. “There’s just not many guys wired like him. I’m telling you. It doesn’t matter what you do. If it’s a drill, kickoff coverage, scout-look team or you have him at ‘backer, he’s just wide-open. He loves to play. He doesn’t flinch.”
The rest of Clemson’s redshirt-no redshirt calls aren’t quite as clear – for a number of factors – which has led to some contingencies.
“We’ve got a good plan in place,” said the Tigers head coach. “We’ve got a few guys that we’ll get ready, but not necessarily play them – but see what happens in the first few weeks. Then we’ve got some guys that we have to go ahead and play them.
“To me it’s got to be obvious. Obviously this guy is really going to help you win – or it’s just out of need.”
First-year freshmen on the obvious side include Daniel product and defensive end Shaq Lawson; safeties Jadar Johnson, Jayron Kearse and Cordrea Tankersley; nickelback Korrin Wiggins; tight end Jordan Leggett; and receivers Mike Williams and T.J. Green.
“Mike Williams is a definite (and) T.J. Green,” Swinney said. “Both of those guys have to play. It’s a good situation there because we don’t need to depend on them, but we feel like we need to get them experience.”
Counting Boulware, that makes up nine of the 22 enrollees.
The next tier is a muddied picture by injuries.
Five-star DB Mackensie Alexander appeared to be a lock and possible starter contender going into camp, but a nagging injury (groin) has him on the cut-line for 2013.
“Mackensie’s a guy that we definitely think can help us, but he’s still not 100 percent,” Swinney said. “He’s a guy that we just have to keep coming. He’s probably a guy that we can’t make a decision on right now. At some point if he’s still not 100 percent, we’ll just hold him. We definitely think he can help us when healthy.”
Elbert County’s Tyshon Dye impressed early among the running backs, but has been out for the last week with a lower back injury. Fellow frosh tailback Wayne Gallman has put together a solid camp, but he still lands in a group needing the extra year of development.
“We’ll probably bring them along and see if they’re ready,” said Swinney. “Tyshon, hopefully we can get him back soon and see where he is. Those two (running backs), we don’t have a firm decision. We’ll continue to get them ready.”
Injury Report: Two Tigers had scopes done for different injuries Monday morning.
Sophomore tackle Joe Gore had his done on a knee that the Tigers’ head coach says is lacking meniscus tissue. A special brace is likely in order to alleviate some of the pressure there.
Junior running back D.J. Howard had a scope done on his ankle. Howard injured the ankle earlier in practice and missed time last season with a sprained ankle.
After separating a shoulder in Saturday’s scrimmage, freshman safety Kearse is day-to-day.
After dueling torn ACLs in the spring game, both junior tight end Sam Cooper and sophomore quarterback Chad Kelly are in green jerseys participating in 7-on-7 drills on track to return as early as September.
“Those guys are just incredibly impressive,” Swinney said. “With (director of sports medicine) Danny Poole and our doctors, everybody has done a great job. Their work ethic has been tremendous. It’s amazing to see them bounce around in team reps today. We really pushed them to get them going today.”
Dealing with a more minor knee injury, freshman tight end Leggett could dress for the Georgia game, but will likely not play until the next week against S.C. State per Swinney.