CLEMSON -- Last season, Michael Palmer set single-season records for receptions (43) and yards (507) by a Clemson tight end. In the season's second half, Palmer was a featured part of the offense, becoming Kyle Parker's security blanket.

With Palmer graduated, Dwayne Allen is excited about a similar opportunity.

After moments of brilliance last fall, Allen moves into the starting lineup this spring. Palmer said prior to his departure that Allen has the talent to easily break his records.

"It's a whole new year," said Allen, a sophomore. "I'm a starter and I'm looking forward to playing."

Swinney said Allen is a key figure in the passing game this year as the Tigers replace their three leading pass catchers: Palmer, C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford.

Allen said he's not complacent atop the depth chart and says he loves "pushing" teammates.

Look for Allen to easily surpass his totals of 10 receptions and 108 yards from 2009.

Allen could also become a key red-zone target as three of his catches were for touchdowns last season, tying Xavier Dye for the top returning number among receivers.

McNeal weighs in

Bryce McNeal arrived to campus last year as a highly touted receiving prospect and with a rail-thin 6-2, 168-pound frame.

McNeal redshirted not just due to the weight of the playbook, but he also required added weight and strength.

McNeal said his weight is up to 179 pounds this spring. The staff wants him at 185. During practice Monday, McNeal caught the ball well for the most part, making a nice grab on a pass well behind him on a crossing route.

"(McNeal's) athleticism jumps out at you," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

McNeal is listed as a backup to Marquan Jones. McNeal, Brandon Clear and Jaron Brown all had moments of brilliance Monday, and all dropped balls.

They figure to push veterans Dye, Terrence Ashe and Jones for playing time.

Raises recommended for coaching staff

The board of trustees at Clemson recommended raises for Swinney and his staff after the team reached its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Athletic director Terry Don Phillips would not say on Monday how much Swinney or any of his assistants would make.

Swinney's original head coaching contract guaranteed an increase if the Tigers won the ACC's Atlantic Division, which they did for the first time last season. The accomplishment means Swinney should have about $1 million added to his original salary of $800,000.

Swinney retained his entire staff, specifically defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott, after inquiries from other schools.


DeAndre McDaniel might have some competition for the team's lead in interceptions this fall. Rashard Hall has moved into the starting safety spot opposite him and intercepted two passes on Monday. Hall intercepted six passes last year in a reserve role, two behind McDaniel.