CLEMSON -- Brandon Ford knows what it takes to be an elite tight end. The former Hanahan High standout lived with one this season, his roommate Dwayne Allen, the Mackey Award winner.
Ford said he spent hours upon hours watching video with Allen in their campus area apartment. Ford said few fans know Allen's work ethic and attention to detail: studying depth on routes, hand position and other aspects of the tight end craft.
"For me to be his roommate this year was pretty awesome just sitting in the house with him watching film," Ford said. "I learned a lot from him."
Clemson hopes Ford absorbed enough knowledge from Allen because the redshirt junior and former wide receiver could be Allen's replacement next season.
Should Allen forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft, which is entirely possible if not likely as Allen is a consensus top 50 NFL draft prospect, Ford would find himself atop the depth chart at the position.
Even if Allen does return, Ford can expect a greater role next season if he can become stronger and more physical, which is what the coaching staff has asked from him. Ford said his goal is to get his playing weight up to 250 pounds this offseason. Ford played at 230 pounds this season.
"(Being physical) is something I have to grow more into," Ford said. "I was used to being split as a wide receiver."
Coach Dabo Swinney says Ford has above average ball skills and those were apparent in a two-game stretch against N.C. State and Wake Forest when Ford recorded eight catches for 123 yards.
"It's about playing with a level of intensity every play at that position because it is a physical position," Swinney said. "That's where (Ford) has had to grow and mature the most because he has great ball skills and runs great routes."
Clemson in the red for Orange Bowl trip
The Clemson athletic department is projecting to take a $185,000 loss in its trip to the Orange Bowl. The ACC allowance for the bowl trip is $1.725 million, but costs -- tickets, lodging, meals and travel -- are expected to exceed the bowl allowance.
Swinney said the team is hoping to have its game plan for West Virginia installed by Thursday. The team will then take a four-day holiday break before traveling to Miami for the Orange Bowl ... Reserve defensive tackle Tavaris Barnes and defensive back Cortez Davis have been among the impressive reserves in bowl practice to date.