Maybe he can't be in uniform yet, but that didn't stop incoming freshman linebacker Ben Boulware from participating in Clemson's first spring practice on Wednesday.
As the Tigers began defensive drills, the T.L. Hanna High product - who was rated as the state of South Carolina's top senior player by ESPN - was watching and learning alongside Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Boulware, who was a standout performer in two post-season all-star games, is expected to compete for playing time when he officially arrives this summer.
Sorting Them Out: With so many personnel options for the three linebacker positions, Dabo Swinney said the Tigers will start out with senior Quandon Christian at 'sam' - a position that shares the field with the 'nickel back' spot; junior Stephone Anthony at the middle 'mike' spot, junior Tony Steward at 'will,' and senior Spencer Shuey swinging between the 'mike' and 'will' positions. Justin Parker, who is coming off a redshirt year, will start out in the middle.
Other options include sophomores Kellen Jones and B.J. Goodson, and redshirt freshman T.J. Burrell. They will be joined this summer by Boulware, Dorian O'Daniel and D.J. Greenlee.
Jenkins Is Back With Big Impact: Junior defensive back Martin Jenkins worked on Wednesday at three positions - field corner, boundary corner and nickel. He said it felt good to be back on the field after having watched from the sidelines all last season.
Also back at full speed were Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland.
D.J. Reader Splitting Time: Not on the field Wednesday was defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who asked off to be with the baseball team for its game against Wofford. "D.J. thought he might have a chance to get into the game today," said Dabo Swinney.
It didn't happen, but Swinney said that's OK - that to him, Reader giving baseball a serious shot is a positive. Reader will be back on the football field on Friday, Saturday and Monday, and will not accompany the baseball team to Raleigh for the N.C. State series.
Beasley Bulks Up: Dabo Swinney said that defensive end Vic Beasley has put on some weight, but is still working toward a target of between 238 and 245. "If he can get there, it's like anybody else at 270," Swinney said. "He's that strong and powerful."
Swinney said that other than Beasley, who has a specific skill-set as a speed rusher, he considers the Tigers' other defensive ends to be interchangeable.