Freshman impressive during spring practice
CLEMSON — Travis Blanks has required all of 10 spring football practices to assert himself as a likely contributor next season and a potential future star at Clemson.
Blanks enrolled early this spring after many recruiting services rated the four-star prospect as the top signee in Clemson’s 2012 class. ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill rated Blanks as the No. 2 safety prospect in the nation. Blanks has lived up to the lofty billing this spring, demonstrating precocious football acumen and a last-one-to-leave-the-facility work ethic to accompany his considerable physical talents.
The 6-1, 195-pounder from Tallahassee, Fla., is yet another Clemson recruit from the I-10 corridor in the Sunshine State.
He is the first of a program- record eight early enrollee freshmen to make an impact and perhaps the best bet among the group to become a star.
Blanks is already working as the primary nickel back on coordinator Brent Venables’ defense that must bolster its secondary.
“He’s worked hard,” Venables said. “He’s picked up things fairly well. He’s really hard on himself. Very prideful.”
The rangy Blanks could play safety or cornerback, but Venables has worked him primarily at the nickel-back position, which is the extra defensive back when a team goes to a five defensive back alignment.
“We are trying to get him really good at nickel position instead of really average at a lot of things,” Venables said. “Get him really good at one thing and go from there. But he has a lot of flexibility.”
Blanks has the skills, athleticism and aggressive-ness to eventually start at cornerback, where Clemson has mostly inexperienced players on the spring depth chart.
“It’s hard to think a true freshman is just going to step in ... but he’s done a great job of that,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
“Blanks is just a really, really talented player that just gets it.”