7 at 7: New radio, podcast features accompany Clemson coverage this fall

CLEMSON – Only three days remaining this offseason. We’re almost there, kids.

1) So the beat will add a few extra responsibilities this fall, particularly involving a certain reporter’s vocal chords.

For the second straight year, I can be heard on ESPN Upstate on Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. (online link is right here on ESPN Upstate’s website.) I’ll also be joining Fan Talk on 98.9 FM in Charleston, usually on Thursdays; follow along for those times and days.

Also, VSporto is launching a new Clemson radio channel in addition to its other team-centric networks. I’ll be fixing to host one to two podcasts per week this season, which will integrate player and coach interviews along with guest spots.

You can listen to the inaugural podcast here, in which Post and Courier columnist Gene Sapakoff and former P&C Clemson writer Larry Williams weigh in on the upcoming season.

2) I asked defensive coordinator Brent Venables how many cornerbacks he planned to rotate in the early goings of this season, and his ensuing answers were, well, a little vague.

“Rotate? I just hope we got two. I’ll be very honest, I’m not real concerned,” Venables said. “Y’all have seen the depth chart, and I’m hopeful we keep two of them healthy out there. You always like a solid two-deep, maybe a swing guy. I think we’ve got that.”

Cordrea Tankersley is listed as the starter at boundary corner opposite Mackensie Alexander – just as Tankersley was entering the 2014 season, only to be usurped by Garry Peters, an eventual all-ACC first-team selection. So I asked how strong Tankersley’s hold was on the starting spot.

“Across the board, you never feel great about where you’re at. You always want to be better,” Venables said. “Certainly, you wish you had another week of fall camp to iron some things out and get some guys better. But that’s what the season’s for; you hope you finish a heck of a lot better by the end of the year.

“I think he’s been pretty consistent and pretty solid and not spectacular, but not far behind.”

So, we’ll see.

3) Sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson doesn’t need his head coach to keep him grounded. If anything, it’s the other way around.

“He’s one in a million,” Dabo Swinney said. “There’s just not many guys that think the way he does. He calms me down. He’s just an amazing young man who is really grounded, and he’s truly focused.”

Swinney added Watson is on track to graduate in December 2016. Watson arrived on campus in January 2014, meaning he’d have his degree in three years – and just in time to prospectively declare for the 2017 NFL Draft after three seasons at Death Valley.

4) Wayne Gallman is galvanized by offensive coordinator Tony Elliott’s promise to keep him on the field as long as he’s got the hot hand – and replace Gallman with four other prospectively capable backs otherwise.

“Very confident. From hearing him say that, I’m ready,” Gallman said.

Asked for his individual goals this year, the third-year sophomore tailback said, “I don’t want to short myself. I have high expectations for myself. Maybe 1,500 range. Me, as a player, I’m going to do whatever the offense needs me to do and I’m going to play my butt off.”

5) It would seem a stretch that Memorial Stadium will be 100 percent ready to host a college football game three days from right now, based on the ongoing construction we witnessed the last two days for group interviews. (Parking is a disaster, for one.) However, there are obvious upgrades within the Tigers’ home base.

“Really pumped about being in Death Valley. It’s the best it’s ever been. I have never seen our stadium look like it looks,” Swinney said Tuesday. “I’ve got to give (athletic director) Dan (Radakovich) and our administration a ton of credit for what they’ve done to our stadium, the suites, the South club. It’s incredible. It’s just sparkling. It’s exciting to bring it back to life starting this weekend.”

Clemson is in the midst of $106 million worth of facility upgrades.

6) This Pittsburgh piece on Steelers coach Mike Tomlin discussing the plight of Martavis Bryant, who faces a four-game suspension for drug abuse, is not an encouraging sign for the former Tigers receiver.

7) And finally, Swinney was asked directly about last week’s Virginia Tech storyline, in which reporters found out the Hokies’ coaches had a fining system in place to dock players their cost of attendance checks for assorted grievances from missing class to a dirty dorm room. (Virginia Tech promptly shut down the system.)

Swinney did detail one way in which players could forfeit cash.

“If we’ve got a guy who refuses to show up for his tutors, we’ve always made them reimburse the $10 or whatever,” Swinney said. “I’m not going to let a guy be defiant, because we have to pay for those tutors. Suddenly, you’ve got a guy no-show three or four times without calling cancels. But that’s not a fine, that’s a reimbursement of what you owe.”

-AB