Clemson players look sharp in opening football practice

 Dabo Swinney says the goal for the first day of camp is pretty simple – come out and look sharp. For the most part, that’s what the 100 or so players who reported for the start of fall camp did Friday.

“It should show up that they have thrown all summer,” Clemson’s head coach said after the first practice. “It should show up that these guys have been out here doing their skills and drills. That’s the main thing. They should not be rusty.

“These guys have worked all summer and I thought they looked really crisp and really sharp. They threw the ball and caught the ball well, and I thought they picked up where they left off from spring ball.”

Not everyone was perfect though, especially the new players, which is to be expected the first day of camp. One of the things Clemson likes to do during the first 10 days of practice is rep three groups instead of two.

“When you have a lot of freshmen getting their very first reps, sometimes it is not going to be quite as smooth as you want,” he said. “But that is to be expected. They are learning, and this is literally the first day we can be on the field with these guys.”

The first and second team units appeared to have had a pretty good first day, even with the news that All-American wide receiver Sammy Watkins was suspended for the first two games of the season after his arrest this past May. The team found out about the suspension just before the start of Friday’s practice.

“I think we were all very aware of the situation and prepared for the worst,” center Dalton Freeman said. “Sammy has done absolutely nothing but get better since he has been here. Obviously, he made a poor choice, but I think it is something that is going to help him learn and grow in the future.

“He has taken his punishment and we are going to move on.”

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said everyone was excited to get back out to practice with only 29 days until the 14th-ranked Tigers open the season against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

“The season opener will be here soon enough,” he said. “I have never been a part of a summer that went by so fast. Every day we have to cherish it, seize it and win the day. Win the day, win the play. That’s just the kind of things they throw around here.

“There is no complaining. It is all about work right now and that is the kind of attitude we have in this program.”

This is a big camp for Boyd. After a stellar 2011 season, which saw him land first team All-ACC and honorable mention All-America honors, he not only has to continue to get better on the football field, but he also has to be a better leader on the sideline, in the locker room and off the field.

He thinks Friday’s first practice was a good step in that direction.

“For me, it’s all about my command,” the redshirt junior said. “We lost a guy like Dwayne (Allen) last year, whose leadership was pivotal for us. In my eyes, that’s where my role steps up right now.

“I’m smiling all the time. It’s all about how those guys view me and see how I work.  I’m excited about leading this team and today was a good start.”

Parker to redshirt: Swinney announced after practice that linebacker Justin Parker will have to take a medical redshirt this season due to a nagging groin injury that will not heal. Swinney says Parker has done everything to help the injury heal, but it continues to come back.

The two agreed it was best he sit this year out and come back next season so he can have two healthy seasons to play. Parker is eligible for a medical redshirt because he played as a true freshman.

Photo courtesy of CU Athletics

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