CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson will host its annual Orange and White Spring Game Saturday at 1 p.m. to wrap up spring practices.
Whether you come to Memorial Stadium and watch the game in person or you are at home watching the game on the ACC Network, there are plenty of things for you to look for in this glorified scrimmage.
Here are five positions you should pay close attention to.
- The Quarterbacks: The quarterback position is interesting for two reasons. The first is DJ Uiagalelei. He is coming off a disappointing season by his own standards. One in which he threw 10 interceptions and had just nine touchdowns, while completing just 55.6 percent of his passes. The California native has dropped more than 20 pounds since the end of the 2021 season and, so far, the reviews during spring practices have been good. We will see if he can close out the spring with a strong performance in the spring game. The second is Cade Klubnik. The freshman had an impressive resume in high school and from what we have learned he has really caught on to things pretty fast since enrolling at Clemson in January. Dabo Swinney has compared him physically to Deshaun Watson during his freshman year and they like to see Klubnik continue to bulk up. Though he is still learning the offense, it should be interesting to see how the freshman performs in front of a large crowd when all eyes will be on him.
- Center: Clemson entered the spring with no one with any real college experience playing the center position. Hunter Rayburn was expected to be the regular starter at center this coming season before a neck injury forced him to end his playing career. Mason Trotter, who started seven games last season after returning from a preseason hand injury, will not play for the majority of the 2022 season due to eligibility reasons. Will Putnam moved over from right guard and appears to be the leader coming out of the spring to be the Tigers’ new starting center. Word coming out of camp is that he has done well with the transition overall, but he still has a few issues with the snap from time-to-time. Redshirt freshman Ryan Linthicum has continued to progress, but it does not sound like he is ready to be the regular starter just yet. Redshirt sophomore Trent Howard will also get some looks at the center position during the spring game.
- Wide receiver: Though injuries played a big role, perhaps the most disappointing performance by position group last year was the wide receivers. Justyn Ross, Frank Ladson, Will Taylor, Brannon Spector and Joseph Ngata suffered season-ending-injuries at some point during the season, while E.J. Williams was banged up all year. Because of the injuries, the Clemson coaches lost trust in the passing game. However, Beaux Collins and Dacari Collins showed promise for the future. This spring, Ngata made an effort to stay healthy and has showed more toughness. Beaux Collins was having a great spring before suffering a hamstring injury while running routes during spring break. Williams missed all of the spring due to a scope on his knee prior to the start of practice and Taylor is with the baseball team. Prior to last Friday, freshman Adam Randall had been the talk of the practices, but he tore his ACL in a none contact drill and had surgery on Thursday. But there is some good news. Spector is back and is having a very good spring, as is Dacari Collins. Redshirt freshman Troy Stellato, who had an injury plagued freshman season, returned in the second half of the spring, and has made significant progress.
- The Defensive backfield: Corners Andrew Booth and Mario Goodrich and safety Nolan Turner are all off to the NFL. Cornerbacks Sheridan Jones and Malcom Greene and safeties Lannden Zanders and Tyler Venables will be unavailable for the spring game. This will be a good opportunity to watch guys like Fred Davis, Nate Wiggins, Toriano Pride, Jr. and Sherrod Covil, Jr. show what they can do along with veterans Andrew Mukuba, R.J Mickens and Jalyn Phillips. The coaches gave crossed trained Mukuba at cornerback, both safety positions and the nickel/SAM position during the course of the spring. Word is Mickens and Phillips have both had excellent springs, as well.
- Linebackers: James Skalski and Baylon Spector are off to making their NFL dreams come true, meaning the Tigers will have two new starters at linebacker. However, new linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin has moved Trenton Simpson to the weakside, and sophomore Barrett Carter is the new strongside backer. In the middle, Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. and Keith Maguire are in a pretty good competition to replace Skalski. Word is the linebackers are more athletic and faster than ever before and Goodwin has simplified things a little more so his backers can show off their strong attributes.