For Tigers' redshirting freshmen, bowl practice affords full-squad opportunity

A dozen first-year players will get a head start on spring practice when bowl drills begin

Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney greets freshman Mackensie Alexander during the first day of practice in Clemson.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

INDEPENDENT MAIL FILE PHOTO Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney greets freshman Mackensie Alexander during the first day of practice in Clemson.

For Clemson's redshirting freshmen, bowl practice will mean a head start on spring practice.

Each December, Dabo Swinney takes a significant portion of the Tigers' extra practice time and blends the redshirt freshmen into in the full-team mix.

Nine of the Tigers' first-year freshmen saw action this season, while 13 redshirted. The redshirt group includes four defensive backs, two offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, two linebackers and two running backs.

Following is a quick look at the new players who'll be competing for spots on the depth chart in the spring:

Mackensie Alexander: The highest-rated member of Clemson's 2013 recruiting class, Alexander was scheduled for early playing time at cornerback before suffering a groin injury during the opening week of preseason camp. The injury eventually required surgery, and after rehabbing, he spent the last month of the season working on the Tigers' scout team. Out of Immokalee (Fla.) High, Alexander was ranked as the No. 4 overall recruit in the nation by ESPN - Clemson's highest-ranked signee since Da'Quan Bowers in 2008.

Adrian Baker: A defensive back from Hallandale, Fla., Baker was well on his way to earning playing time this fall before being sidelined by injury. The ESPN Top 200 prospect. He starred on both sides of the ball and also was one of his state's top sprinters during his career at Chaminade-Madonna College Prep.

Ryan Carter: A defensive back from Grayson High in Loganville, Ga., Carter was a teammate of Tiger running back Wayne Gallman and quarterback Nick Schuessler on Grayson's 15-0 state championship team in 2011. He starred both as a defensive back and wide receiver, and was ranked as the nation's No. 31 cornerback by ESPN.

Tyrone Crowder: A four-star offensive lineman from Richmond County High in Marston, N.C., the 6-2, 325-pound Crowder was ranked as the No. 5 offensive guard in the nation and No. 125 overall by ESPN. A 4.0 student, Crowder had more than 200 pancake blocks during his junior and senior seasons, and also starred as a thrower in track. He's the cousin of Tiger junior linebacker Stephone Anthony.

Tyshon Dye: A big back with speed to spare, Dye was headed for early playing time in the Tiger backfield before suffering a back injury during preseason camp. After attempting rehab, he underwent surgery in October. He won't be available this spring, but should be good to go by the summer. Rated as the nation's No. 18 running back by ESPN, Dye was a three-year star at Elbert County (Ga.) High and was a member of a state championship track team as a junior.

Marcus Edmond: In redshirting the speedy defensive back from Lower Richland High in Hopkins, S.C., Dabo Swinney said the coaching staff "bit the bullet" on a player who might have seen significant action as a first-year freshman. Among the Tigers' most impressive performers in preseason camp, Edmond racked up more than 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns as a quarterback during his senior season, and also had 48 tackles. He was rated as the state's No. 12 prospect by Rivals.

Wayne Gallman: A tough inside runner with a linebacker's aggressive mentality, Gallman starred on both sides of the ball at Grayson High. He was rated as the No. 18 running back in the nation by 247Sports.

D.J. Greenlee: A linebacker from Daniel High, Greenlee grew up around the Clemson football program, as his dad, Larry, is a former Tiger track star and now is Clemson's assistant director of strength and conditioning. A three-year starter, he finished his high school career with 189 tackles and five interceptions.

Maverick Morris: A 6-4, 285-pound offensive lineman from Coffee County High in Broxton, Ga., Morris earned his scholarship offer after impressing Robbie Caldwell with his strength and toughness during summer camp. He was coached in high school by Buddy Nobles, who earlier coached C.J. Spiller at Lake Butler, Fla.

Dorian O'Daniel: Rated as one of the top linebackers and No. 40 overall in the nation by ESPN out of Our Lady of Good Counsel High in Olney, Md., O'Daniel was the top running back in the Maryland-D.C. area as a senior, when he rushed for 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns. He's Clemson's first signee from the state of Maryland since 1991.

Ebenezer Ogundeko: The former Under Armour All-American will join the Tigers' defensive end mix next spring. Rated as the nation's No. 126 player overall and as the No. 1 defensive end in New York by ESPN, Ogundeko had 71 tackles and 16 sacks as a senior at Thomas Jefferson High in Brooklyn.

Scott Pagano: Rated as the nation's No. 104 player overall by Rivals, Pagano won the Lombardi Award as the top defensive lineman in the western region of the U.S. A U.S. Army All-American, Pagano was rated as the No. 1 player in Hawaii. As a senior at Moanalua High in Honolulu, he set a school record with 32 tackles for loss, including 19 sacks, and blocked six kicks and caused six fumbles. Clemson's first signee from Hawaii since 1986, Pagano has family connections in nearby Easley, S.C.

Dane Rogers: During his four seasons as a starting defensive end at Crest High in Shelby, N.C., Rogers had 282 tackles, 38 tackles for loss and 21 sacks. A Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas pick, he's the cousin of Clemson sophomore defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.

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