CLEMSON -- Three days into summer camp, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney believes the Tigers are a tougher group than they were at this point last summer.

"We still want to improve, but we have made strides," Swinney said of toughness. "We want to be the tougher team in every game this year --that is the mark of a championship team."

The words are especially encouraging for Clemson, considering the team lost leaders in Thomas Austin, C.J. Spiller and Michael Palmer.

Swinney credits part of the increased toughness to the type athletes Clemson has targeted in recruiting.

"It's a contact sport, otherwise you'd go out to the track field and sign them up," Swinney said Thursday. "That's what separates all those measurables from good football players.

"When you have a highly competitive situation with guys that have a lot of pride in their jobs and performance compete against each other, it can't help but make you tougher."

After two days of practicing in shorts and helmets, the Tigers added shoulder pads Thursday. The Tigers will practice in full gear Saturday.

Parker showing little rust

Near the end of Wednesday's practice Kyle Parker hit wide receiver Marquan Jones with a 70-yard touchdown pass, showing little effect from being away from football.

More than his throwing ability, Swinney has been impressed with Parker's "retention" from the spring. Parker said he's not worried about chemistry issues with receivers after sitting out voluntary summer practices . Parker said he developed plenty of chemistry last year and in the spring with the receiving corps.

Jenkins on watch list

Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins was named to the Outland Trophy preseason watch list Thursday. The award is given to the nation's top interior lineman. Jenkins is one of 11 ACC players on the list and one of just three ACC defensive linemen, joining North Carolina's Marvin Austin and Miami's Marcus Forston.

Good health

Clemson's only significant injury is one that occurred earlier this year: reserve offensive linemen Wilson Norris' torn ACL.

Twitter feed

Learning Kevin Steele's defense isn't easy for freshmen. From Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers' Twitter account: "These rookies learning the defense (are) having nightmares."

Price bulking up

Swinney said reserve tackle Phillip Price who the team converted from tight end last year has his weight up to 298 pounds. The Tigers are six deep along the offensive front but have questions after that group. Price will compete with Brandon Thomas for depth chart position beyond the starting tackles.