The last day of spring camp always ends with the annual Orange and White scrimmage open to any and all Clemson fans. It's a chance for fans to get a little taste of what is coming back for the upcoming season. It's also a chance for fans to build up their excitement and anticipation for the upcoming college football season.
It's also an opportunity to give players a fighting chance to show the coaching staff they are worthy of taking the field. And after the success of an ACC Championship and the disappointment of a bitter 70-33 loss in the Orange Bowl, the coaches will be looking for more out of their players, so they can add an Orange Bowl Trophy that they were unable to achieve.
And coming out of the spring game, we will predict what the two-deep depth chart is likely to look like before the rest of the recruits arrive into fall camp.
Starter: Tajh Boyd
Primary Backup: Cole Stoudt or Morgan Roberts
There is no question here. After winning an ACC Championship in his first year as a starter—and doing it very well—Boyd is the clear cut starter in camp.
A pleasant surprise during camp has been the emergence of freshman grey-shirt Morgan Roberts, who has surprisingly come on strong early in spring camp. He is pushing a struggling Cole Stoudt, who last year beat out Tony McNeal for the backup spot and even was in the running for the starting job early on in the spring. Both, according to offensive coordinator Chad Morris, have been neck in neck for the primary backup position. Roberts' mobility and decent arm strength have been an asset for him and the coaches this spring.
Starter: Andre Ellington
Primary Backup: DJ Howard
As is the case with Boyd, Ellington is the clear cut starter in a running back corps with fewer numbers and plenty of youth at the position.
Howard has shown enough to continue to maintain his position as Ellington's primary backup. The true test lies at the third spot, as teams usually like to have at least three good, healthy running backs in the rotation. Rod McDowell and Mike Bellamy have been back and forth this spring. McDowell has more experience and is a more disciplined running back. While rising sophomore Bellamy has the most upside, he has struggled this spring with ball security and pass protection, despite his speed and quickness. Unless Bellamy can hold on to the football, he will see little time on the field.
Wide Receiver Starters: Sammy Watkins, Deandre Hopkins, Jaron Brown
Primary Backups: Adam Humphries, Martavis Bryant, Charone Peake
This is unarguably Clemson's most loaded and talented position and was the highlight of the spring game. Watkins looks faster and faster, Hopkins continues to come into his own and Bryant has emerged as a tall, deep-threat target against smaller defensive backs thanks to his 6'4" to 6'5" frame and athletic ability, but Brown gets an edge over him here as Bryant continues to better learn the playbook, and offensive coordinator says that Bryant must continue to get more consistent in his overall game.
Humphries, Peake and Bryant proved themselves to be reliable pass catchers anywhere on the field. However, with Bryant's emergence, Brown may see a little less time on the field and may be passed by Bryant as the third receiver behind Watkins and Hopkins.
Tight End Starter: Brandon Ford
Primary Backup: Sam Cooper
Ford's ability as a flex tight end only adds more to an already loaded Clemson passing attack. While this position is also loaded with young depth and talent, Cooper has done well enough in camp to become the primary backup behind Ford, although red-shirt freshman Eric MaClain and Darrel Smith will push him.
Starter - Brandon Thomas
Reserve - Isaiah Battle
According to offensive coordinator Chad Morris, he states that he has about 'seven' linemen he could depend on right now. And coming out of the spring, it looks as though Thomas, one of two returning linemen with starting experience, will remain at left tackle after doing most of his duty at left guard until former tackle Philip Price went down with a knee injury. True freshman Battle has the size and frame of a true left tackle, but is raw at this point and still needs development behind Thomas before stepping into a starting role.
Starter - Kalon Davis
Reserve: David Beasley/Brandon Thomas
Kalon Davis has made perhaps the biggest strides on the offensive line, as head coach Dabo Swinney has not ed on his improved performance from his inconsistent performance in practices a year ago. Behind him, Beasley will likely be the primary backup, although Thomas could move over to guard should Davis go down.
Starter - Dalton Freeman
Reserves - Ryan Norton/Jay Guillermo
Freeman is in his fourth year as the starting center after deciding to forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season. Freeman has been a key piece on this line, and has been the only clear answer for this uncertain offensive line. Behind him, young players Norton and true freshman Jay Guillermo have been competing for the main spot behind Freeman, and Norton seemed to emerge with a lead. The coaching staff has also been considering moving Norton over to guard as well.
Right Guard: Tyler Shatley
Reserve - Ryan Norton/Spencer Region
One of the more interesting moves of spring practice has been the move of defensive tackle Tyler Shatley to right guard. The result: Shatley looks to be in line for the starting position, and has worked almost exclusively with the first team offense during the spring. The Tigers are looking for more toughness out of the line, and Shatley looks to be the guard to do it. Behind him, the monstrous size of red-shirt freshman Spencer Region, and possibly Ryan Norton, look to fill in as reserve roles.
Starter - Gifford Timonthy
Reserve - Joe Gore
The battle at right tackle seems to be settling down,as Timonthy looks to be gaining an edge over Joe Gore, as both have had their ups and downs during spring practice. But coming out of the spring, offensive coordinator Chad Morris seems to have more confidence in Timothy, and he was among the group of players that he said would be starting if the season started today.
Starters: Corey Crawford, Mallicah Goodman
Reserves: Roderick Byers, Vic Beasley
The biggest question on defense has been depth at defensive end. While Goodman and Crawford have emerged as the starters from the spring, depth behind them remains up for grabs until incoming freshman Shaq Lawson and Martin Aiken arrive. Until then, Byers and Beasley look to get a longer look before fall camp. Beasley has the athletic ability, but must refine his technique, and Byers must continue to develop as a player.
Defensive Tackle Starters: Deshawn Williams, Grady Jarrett
Defensive Tackle Reserves: Tavaris Barnes, Josh Watson
According to defensive coordinator Brent Venables, the four man rotation of Williams, Jarrett, Barnes, and Watson look to have emerged as the main group heading into fall camp. And with highly recruited defensive tackles in Carlos Watkins and DJ Reader coming to town, the spring was the last chance for these guys to make an impression upon the new defensive coordinator. Venables ha stated that the defensive line was, in fact, better than he thought it was coming into the spring.
Starter - Stephone Anthony
Reserve - Spencer Shuey
The only clear cut starter for the linebackers is rising sophomore Stephone Anthony at Mike linebacker, who has drawn plenty of praise from the new defensive coordinator and the coaching staff. Anthony's Primary backup will be Spencer Shuey, who has been noticed for his effective communication in setting up the defense and getting the proper calls and alignments.
Starter - Johnathan Willard/Corico Hawkins
Reserve - Tony Steward
With Anthony at Mike, Hawkins has been moved to the Will position, where he will battle Willard. This battle appears to have not been decided, and will not be decided until the fall. Willard played here all of last season, and was Clemson's most consistent linebacker last season, and possibly has an early edge as a result. Rising sophomore Tony Steward had to sit out the spring due to a knee injury, and where he factors in remains to be seen until fall camp starts.
Starter: Quandon Christian/Lateek Townsend
Reserves: BJ Goodson
Meanwhile, at Sam linebacker, Christian is having to fend off Lateek Townsend, whose ability to rush the passer and his aggressive style could earn him more time on defense this year, especially in pass rushing situations. Red-shirt BJ Goodson could possibly be factor, but for now, it looks like he will fill a reserve role, and earn most of his playing time on special teams.
Starters: Bashaud Breeland, Xavier Brewer, Travis Blanks,
Reserves: Martin Jenkins, Darius Robinson
A secondary looking for improvement will have a true freshman starting by the name of Travis Blanks, a highly coveted defensive back who has drawn praise from the coaches for his performance, work ethic and ability on the field. Brewer returns after a year of flopping between corner and safety, and looks to fin a permanent home as corner this season. Breeland showed some promise at times last season despite the struggles of the secondary in tackling.
Jenkins showed attitude and aggressiveness during his time on the field, and could be a better contributor in the secondary. Dabo Swinney has also noted the improvement of fellow corner Darius Robinson as well.
Starters: Rashard Hall
The back end especially needs improvement, as the safeties all underperformed last season. With Hall hampered for most of the season, it was difficult foe these safeties to become factors, especially in deep coverage, where the liabilities were the most obvious. Hall sat out the spring due to having knee surgery, and Robert Smith looks to improve after a struggling freshman year, and has plenty of upside to do so.
Starter: Jonathan Meeks
Reserve: Cortez Davis
Meeks had his ups and downs in his first year as the full time starter, and while he did have couple of moments, the fans would like to see a little more consistency, especially in deep coverage, an area that hurt the Tigers to no end in the passing game. And with the transfer of Carlton Lewis, it looks as though Cortez Davis may get his chance to fill a reserve role behind Meeks, as his 6'3 frame is perfect for the safety position.