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By Sam Walters

 

In the last press conference before the 2024 Spring Game, head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media to discuss the upcoming game and answer essential questions. Ranging from player statuses, progress reports, and expectations for the game and the summer, Swinney’s conference had it all. Below, we’ve compiled a few crucial takeaways heading into the weekend.

 

High Hopes

“Pick a side and pack the Valley!”

Ahead of this year’s spring game, Swinney was ecstatic to be sharing the importance of the game. Specifically, he admitted that the game will be the only chance to simulate a match similar to the regular season in the fall.

“This is the only true opportunity to create a game feel,” Swinney said. “We want to create more momentum into the next phase of our journey. We call it transformation.”

Coach Swinney noted the splitting into two sides and the exciting sight of his coordinators becoming head coaches for the day. With Garrett Riley manning the Orange team and Wes Goodwin leading the White team, the game will surely be full of spark.

Dabo Swinney also mentioned an exciting return of a few Clemson alumni as honorary head coaches. These names include Garry Peters, former defensive back and current star for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, D.J. Reader, former defensive tackle and lineman for the Detroit Lions, and possibly Sammy Watkins, former wide receiver and NFL free agent.

 

Injury-Bugged Stars

While the Spring Game will be important for every player to show off their stuff, there are many who are coming off an injury, recovering from surgery or are unable to star in the game.

A few notable players that will not suit up on Saturday include:

Peter Woods (sickness)

Tyler Brown (surgery)

Jay Haynes (hamstring)

Troy Stellato (surgery)

Other names that Swinney mentioned to be sidelined are Cole Turner, Ricardo Jones, Noble Johnson, Corian Gipson, and Walker Parks.

 

Spring Improvements & Game Expectations

Coach Swinney couldn’t speak without giving his thoughts on the quarterback position. He signified the importance of improvement at all positions, highlighting the work that Klubnik has been putting in and its results.

“There are guys at every position for evaluation, and QBs are #1,” Dabo commented. “I feel a lot better right now than I did in January.”

When asked about his expectations for his rushers on game day, Swinney mentioned the opportunities and skills of multiple guys that will be out there, as well as what is already proven.

“Keith Adams has really taken a big step forward this spring,” Coach Swinney said. “I’m proud of him. You better have your big boy pads on when you try to tackle him.”

“He’s a natural runner, there isn't a lot that he doesn't do well,” Swinney said of freshman RB Jarvis Green.

Another question was asked regarding the kicking competition between Robert Gunn and Nolan Hauser, who have continually been battling to improve and earn the starting job in the offseason.

“Steady-Eddie,” Dabo Swinney said of how the competition is going. “They’re both kinda right there. Robert has been a tad more consistent.”

 

Recruiting Thoughts

A question that was floated around the media room was about recruiting, how Coach Swinney sees and values it, and how he feels about the importance of NIL in today’s recruiting world.

It is no shock that NIL has become a major factor in students’ commitment decisions, but Swinney reaffirmed his values on the importance of Clemson’s offers and what they expect from players, staff, and others regarding recruiting.

“I just think we know what we are looking for,” Swinney said when asked about the smaller number of recruits the school brings in as compared to other programs. “Our hit rate is really high. We always wanted our offer to mean something.”

“That’s everybody’s job description. You have got to be a thinker and a recruiter,” Swinney said of his recruiting staff. “Our NIL is for retention, not recruiting.”

 

Be sure to tune into The ROAR at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 6th for pregame coverage of the 2024 Clemson Football Spring Game!

 

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