Tra Thomas following Tyler Shatley's path from D-tackle to offensive line

Dabo Swinney: He just looks so much more athletic and so much more natural. His strength and power shows up'

Clemson defensive tackle D.J. Reader and defensive tackle Tra Thomas during practice August 9.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson defensive tackle D.J. Reader and defensive tackle Tra Thomas during practice August 9.

Tyler Shatley has taught Dabo Swinney and Robbie Caldwell a thing or two: sometimes it's not too late to give even a redshirt junior a new lease on life.

Shatley took his defensive tackle-to-offensive guard move and ran with it last season, blossoming into a mainstay on the offensive side of the ball after being just another guy in the mix on defense.

Swinney is hoping Tra Thomas will do the same.

Thomas, who was lost in the shuffle last season as Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson, DeShawn Williams, D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins manned the interior defensive line positions, began working on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers' scout team during the fall.

The coaches liked what they saw, to the point that Swinney said on Monday that Thomas will stay on offense this spring and see if he can carve out a role for himself.

"Tra is a guy I'm really excited about," said Swinney. "He's another one of those guys who's been in the program over at D-tackle, and he really had a hard time competing with those guys, even though he tried hard and did everything we asked him to do. He's in great shape, and is one of the top few strongest guys on the team.

"We moved him during the season over to the scout team offense, and he just looks so much more athletic and so much more natural. His strength and power shows up.

"I think he's a guy who has a chance to get in the mix at center and guard."

A former teammate of Tiger linebacker Stephone Anthony at Anson High in Wadesboro, N.C. and the cousin of Georgia lineman Trinton Sturdivant, the 6-0, 275-pound Thomas earned all-conference honors in both wrestling and track in high school, and was a member of the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team. He was a top-30 pick among high school seniors in North Carolina, and was rated the No. 103 defensive tackle in the country by Scout.

He was recruited to Clemson by Dan Brooks, and chose Clemson over Louisville, East Carolina, Duke and Michigan State.

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Comments » 1

jarheadtiger writes:

Hope it works out well. We can use as much depth and competition on both sides of the line as we can get. What is the one thing that sticks out about the better teams, is their depth at the line positions. Even when Bama's recivers were rather pedestrian, they were still able to control the line of scrimmage.

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