CLEMSON – Chad Kelly is listed as ‘questionable’ for this weekend – and that’s pretty incredible.
Less than five months ago, both the redshirt freshman and junior tight end Sam Cooper suffered torn ACLs nine plays apart in the Orange-White spring game.
Cooper is on track to return later in September to early October, but for an injury that usually takes six months to a year’s recovery, Kelly is even more ahead of schedule.
It’s certainly something new to Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ coaching career.
Personnel settling for UGa game
“No, I haven’t (seen that before),” he said. “Those guys have been working extremely hard though…It says a lot about both Chad and Sam the dedication that they’ve put in this summer. Getting themselves back ready to go.
“To see Chad back, he’s such a fierce competitor anyway. We’ll see how it goes. You hope that you don’t have to get to them, but he’s there if we need him.”
A four-star prospect out of Buffalo, N.Y., Kelly accounted for over 4,000 total yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior to put his name in the state record books. Enrolling last summer, he got a taste of a full season traveling with the team despite redshirting.
Last week, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Kelly and Cooper were in green jerseys for 7-on-7 drills and Kelly then participated in Friday’s scrimmage.
“He’s been telling everybody he will be back,” Morris said. “He’s worked as hard as anybody I’ve seen. For him to be available is remarkable.”
Rounding out the early injured list, freshmen running back Tyshon Dye (back) and defensive back Mackensie Alexander (groin) headline those ‘out’ for Saturday night, while freshmen tight end Jordan Leggett (knee) and defensive back Jayron Kearse (shoulder) are questionable.
Tiger linebackers gaining confidence: Senior strongside linebacker Quandon Christian got a sneak peek – alongside offensive stalwarts Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins – at this weekend’s opponent at G-Day back in April in Athens.
“They’re athletic – fast,” Christian said. “Their running backs run hard. It was good to go down there and see them. (Todd) Gurley is a big back and he runs hard. We have to tackle real good in that game Saturday night to win.”
Manning the middle for the Tigers is junior Stephone Anthony, who says year two in defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ system will show improvement.
“(We have) confidence in what we’re doing,” Anthony said, “and knowing our job and what we have to get done to win the ballgame. (I feel) probably 10 times better. I’ve grown a lot.”
Where does that growth come from?
“Just prepare. You have to prepare with purpose,” said Anthony. “You go watch film for a reason and go watch it with a purpose and go get an understanding of what you’ve got to do.”
For Christian in his last go-round, he’s looking for an increase in production – after averaging double-digit snaps between tackles last season (11.2), and by all accounts, he’s on his way.
“I told myself I’m going to cut it loose this year,” Christian said. “I want to make more plays in practice and scrimmages and have it come over to games.”