CLEMSON – Junior center Jay Guillermo, who is projected to be a potential starter on Clemson’s offensive line, will miss spring practice due to a “medical issue,” head coach Dabo Swinney said Friday.
Guillermo logged 207 snaps in eight games last season, including one start, and is capable of playing multiple positions.
“I’m really disappointed for him because he would have gone into spring ball as a starter for us,” Swinney said. “He’s not with us right now. He’s got some medical issues that are personal in nature.
“The biggest thing with him right now is just trying to get Jay healthy. I don’t anticipate him being with us this spring. He’s got health things that he’s got to get worked out that are much more important than football. At the same time it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
That somebody else could be sophomore Tyrone Crowder, who played in six games last season and started against Wake Forest.
“Crowder is probably the guy to slip in there at the right guard position and get the first opportunity to win that job,” Swinney said.
Other news emerging from Swinney’s press conference to preview spring practice, which opens Monday:
–Swinney continues to be impressed by the rapid recovery of quarterback Deshaun Watson from knee surgery last December.
“He’s just killing it,” Swinney said. “He’s way ahead (of schedule) – I don’t know how else to say it.”
Swinney said he expects Watson to be ready to return to drills in earnest by mid-summer and isn’t about to curtail the star quarterback’s workload come fall.
“We run the zone-read – that’s what we do,” Swinney said. “You can’t play the game in fear.”
–Redshirt junior quarterback Nick Schuessler will be joined by mid-year enrollees Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel in battling for the back-up spot behind Watson this spring.
Swinney said he wants to see Schuessler take the “next step.”
“He’s got to do that as far as his command, leadership and precision in this offense, and I think he will,” Swinney said. “We’re really going to push him this spring. We need for Nick to assert himself more. He’s a factor for us and we need him to take another step. Hopefully he’ll rise up to the occasion.”
The learning curve will be steep, meanwhile, for Bryant and Israel.
“We’ve got two guys who right now don’t know left from right,” Swinney said. “They’re driving the machine, so we can only go at their pace. We have a ton of work to do.”
–Kendall Joseph, a Belton-Honea Path product, and Korie Rogers – both redshirt freshmen – will begin the spring as second-team linebackers at Mike and Will, respectively.
“Kendall is a guy we almost played last year,” Swinney said. “I think he’s going to shine this spring.”
The Tigers must replace All-ACC linebacker Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward as well as Kellen Jones. Jones, who transferred to Clemson from Oklahoma and suffered a season-ending ACL injury in 2013, recently informed Swinney that he’d had enough.
“He just doesn’t want to play anymore,” Swinney said. “He wants to graduate and go to grad school. He’s a really smart guy and he’s just wanting to move on in life.”