Dabo Swinney will have plenty to keep an eye this spring, as three key position battles unfold that will reshape the Clemson offense for next season.
The coaches anticipate a competitive three-way battle for the starting quarterback spot, a wide-open competition for the three wide receiver positions, and a battle for the top running back spot that may not be decided until fall.
Swinney will be keeping an especially close eye on redshirt freshman running back Tyshon Dye to see if, and at what level, he's able to work this spring.
Dye would have played last fall as a true freshman had it not been for a troublesome back injury that eventually required surgery. His rehab is going well, both with his back and with surgery for an ankle injury he brought with him from high school.
But Swinney said last week that he's not sure at this point how much Dye will be able to do this spring.
The back injury, he said, was similar to one suffered by offensive guard Kalon Davis earlier in his career.
“Kalon’s was worse - a lot worse, actually, than Tyshon’s,” Swinney said. “I don't have any reason to not be confident that he’s going to be ready to go. I just don’t know where he’ll be this spring. I'm not really concerned, to be honest with you. I just want him to be ready to go when we get to camp come August.
“I know he wants to go right now today. But you have to be careful.”
The Tigers recruited Dye, along with classmate Wayne Gallman, to give them a bigger, stronger backfield look. Swinney said he expects Dye, who arrived last summer at 6-1, 205, to eventually play at 220 pounds.
Swinney said the coaches and training staff will err on the side of caution in working Dye into the competition with Gallman, rising senior D.J. Howard, and rising juniors Zac Brooks and C.J. Davidson. More backfield help will arrive next summer with 2014 commitments Jae'lon Oglesby, Adam Choice and C.J. Fuller.
“Any time you’re dealing with a back, you want to proceed very cautiously,” Swinney said. “I don’t have any reason to be concerned, but until you see a guy out there doing it again, there’s always a little bit of caution.”