Clemson linebacker Tony Steward says hes 100 percent and ready to help defense; Barnes has heart-breaking spring
CLEMSON — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney often brings in motivational speakers to address his team. Earlier this training camp, one speaker asked Clemson players to adopt a single word as a sort of personal mission statement for the 2012 season.
Sophomore linebacker Tony Steward chose “endure,” an appropriate selection.
Steward, one of four five-star prospects from the 2011 class, has had to endure nearly two straight years of rehab. He tore the ACL in his left knee as a senior in high school, and tore his right ACL last fall during a punt drill in practice. He played sparingly in five games before tearing the ligament, watching his teammates struggle for much of the season defensively, and then faced a grueling rehab for a second straight offseason.
Now, less than a full year after another surgery to repair his knee, Steward claims he is near 100 percent physically and ready to contribute to a defense sorely in need of playmakers. He has no interest in redshirting.
“I have all the confidence I have before,” Steward said. “I forget about my knee. I have no brace. I had a sleeve for it. I feel like I have no need for it.”
If Steward is indeed 100 percent, he will bring a combination of size, speed, instinct and ferocious hitting to a linebacking corps that is in need of playmakers.
He has been described a throwback player by some analysts, a potential three-down star who never needs to be removed from the field.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables asked Steward to drop 10 pounds, which he has, playing at 232 pounds at weakside linebacker, where he will presumably eventually pencil in the lineup next to fellow five-star of the 2011 class, Stephone Anthony.
Venables likes what he has seen so far from Steward.
“He hasn’t been out of position once,” Venables said. “He has a good understanding of what his responsibilities are, what his alignments are, what his keys are.”
As difficult as it was for Steward to not be a part of the second half of last season, he says sitting and watching might have been the best thing for his development.
“You never want to sit out,” Steward said. “It kind of helped me sit back and try to understand everything. See plays that should be made. See it from a different angle. Off the field you see everything, what you should do, what you can do and what you can’t do.”
Barnes overcomes heartbreaking spring
Clemson defensive end Tavaris Barnes had a trying spring. Barnes’ brother, Gary Tinsley, a linebacker at Minnesota, died of an enlarged heart, and Barnes told the media on Tuesday that his son, born premature, died in June. Barnes is trying to overcome that heartbreak to compete for playing time at defensive end this training camp.
Clemson receiver Charone Peake said his team-best 40 time was 4.24 seconds when timed this summer … Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris expressed concern over the lack of aggressiveness from some of his young linemen following Tuesday’s practice.