CLEMSON — Clemson is on spring break this week, a respite for a football team that has completed a third of its spring practice sessions. The annual spring game, set for April 14 at Memorial Stadium, is still weeks away, but some players are already seeing their stock rise this spring:
Many assumed redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Kelly was the future quarterback at Clemson — at least until 5-star 2014 commitment Deshaun Watson arrives. But this spring, Cole Stoudt has created early separation in the battle to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Tajh Boyd. Kelly has superior tools, but Stoudt has a better grasp of the offense.
“Just his consistency has stood out,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “His fundamentals, his knowledge; he’s more engaged. He looks more like a leader.”
Vic Beasley looks like a different player this spring. Last season, the wire-thin Beasley looked like a wide receiver playing defensive end at 6-3, 220 pounds.
Despite his lithe frame, the explosive Beasley was able to register a team-best eight sacks in limited playing time last season. This spring he’s bulked up to 232 pounds, and has a goal of reaching 250 pounds.
Battle has had an uneven camp to date, but his stock is rising because of this significant endorsement — offensive coordinator Chad Morris wants the massive 6-7, 290-pound sophomore to win the left tackle job. Battle has prototype tackle size and could improve Clemson’s power and short-yardage game. Incumbent left tackle Brandon Thomas could slide inside to start at guard, where he played in 2011.
The linebacking corps is as deep and talented as it’s been in recent memory at Clemson, with former five-star prospects Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward competing for playing time. But Jones has one advantage over the rest of the group — this is his third year in Brent Venables’ system. Jones transferred from Oklahoma last season, following Venables, and has the most experience and knowledge in the scheme. Jones is also aggressive and tenacious. Venables describes him as “disruptive.”
Swinney indicated that Peake, a 6-2 receiver with 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash, is a frontrunner to emerge as the second-most targeted pass-catcher behind Sammy Watkins. Adam Humphries, Martavis Bryant and redshirt freshman Germone Hopper will also be involved, but Peake has a chance to be an impact player in 2013.