Dabo Swinney doesn't claim to know all that much about Kellen Jones yet.
The sophomore linebacker sat out last season after transferring from Oklahoma, and spent the fall on Clemson's scout team, where he made a strong initial impression.
"What I can say about him was that he was a pain in the rear for our offensive coaches and players," said Swinney. "He's full-speed all the time, and is a tough kid who loves to play. That's a good thing right there."
Jones will go into spring practice as part of the Tigers' second tier of linebackers - a group that also includes B.J. Goodson, Justin Parker, and T.J. Burrell, and which will be joined in the fall by incoming freshmen Ben Boulware, Dorian O'Daniel and D.J. Greenlee.
They'll start out working behind what Swinney sees as a core group of four: Spencer Shuey, Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward working the 'Mike' and 'Will' positions, with Quandon Christian again handling the linebacker part of the 'Sam'/Nickel spot.
"I think our linebackers will be a big-time strength of our football team over the next couple of years," Swinney said. "I think we've finally created the depth and class and the vision to be special at the linebacker position again.
"And we've got the experience to go with it. This is a really good group of players - a real strength of our team."
The group includes two seniors, Shuey and Christian, and three juniors - Anthony, Steward and Parker.
"Spencer and Quandon are two guys who have played a lot of ball and have been in a lot of big games," Swinney said.
He noted that Shuey's emergence as a mainstay midway through last season changed the dynamic of the Tigers' linebacking corps.
"Spencer made a commitment in the off-season to put himself in position by losing some weight, and I thought he became as impactful a player as anyone on our team last year," said Swinney. "Then you throw in Stephone and Steward, and I think we've an incredible core to build on...
Those guys will set the table, so to speak. And then you look at the young players behind them. I think we'll probably start off seeing a combination of Shuey and Stephone and Tony working the Mike and Will positions, and then Quandon out there at the Sam. And then we'll go from there."