CLEMSON, S.C. — When Dabo Swinney was asked about the center position following last week’s spring game, the Clemson coach smiled and said, “I don’t remember any bad snaps today. So, that is all you need to know.”
Do not take what Swinney said the wrong way. There are still concerns about the center position as the Tigers head into summer workouts, but they feel better about where they are at center than they did going into the spring.
Clemson began the spring with the news Hunter Rayburn, who was projected to be its starter at center this fall, retired from football due to medical concerns. There was also news that Mason Trotter, who started seven games at center in 2021, is going to be ineligible for much of the upcoming season.
Losing their two most experienced centers left the Tigers in a pinch. They moved Will Putnam, who has started 22 two games the last two seasons at right guard, over to center to help.
“Putnam needed all the work because he is going to be our starter going in (to the fall),” Swinney said. “He has had a really good spring. We have gotten done what we needed to get done. He has played so much football. This guy is a really good player.
“But to make that move is not easy, especially when it is not something you have done. I am really proud of him.”
Besides Putnam getting a lot of reps, the coaches also tried to get redshirt freshman Ryan Linthicum a lot of work, as well as redshirt sophomore Trent Howard.
“We are in a lot better place today than we were when we started spring ball, and that is what we hoped,” Swinney said. “We will keep moving forward. I am proud of Trent. I think Trent has improved. I am proud of Ryan.
“We had a couple of issues with Cade (Klubnik) and Ryan cadence wise on some hard-count stuff, trying to get the ball snapped on the clap and things. Again, this is a high school senior that just got here and a kid that is a true freshman that really haven’t played. So, that will be good for them.”
All in all, Swinney feels good about what Clemson was able to get done at center this spring and on the entire offensive line as a whole.
“We got a good group,” he said. “We got work to do between now and Labor Day. But I think we will be a lot better than we were this time last year.”
Clemson will kickoff the 2022 season against Georgia Tech in Atlanta as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.