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Returning talent dominates in Clemson’s spring game

Ashleigh Snyder
Redshirt sophomore Trent Pearman did not get to display his talents often last season, but shone in the spring game with his exceptional passing and rushing abilities; pictured somersaulting into the end zone for Team Orange.

Saturday’s Clemson spring game saw Team Orange, led by offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, defeat Team White, led by defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin, by a score of 27-12 at Memorial Stadium.

While the freshmen class had their talent on full display with some SportsCenter-worthy plays, several returning players made sure their names were heard in this scrimmage as well.

Trent Pearman || Quarterback

Pearman, a redshirt sophomore, entered as the third-string signal caller, playing the number two position for both teams. Despite that, he put up the best numbers of any Clemson quarterback during the game.

He played for both teams and combined, going 13-for-18 for 141 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Playing with the poise of a starter from the beginning, Pearman marched the first-team offense 57 yards down the field and threw the ball to true freshman Bryant Wesco Jr. for the game’s first touchdown.

Pearman also showed how diverse his play was while at the team’s helm, leading all rushers for the game with 12 carries for 62 yards. One of Pearman’s game highlights included juking a defender and breaking stride down the middle of the field for a 49-yard rushing touchdown.

“He’s a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year. I mean, you don’t get lucky and win back-to-back state championships,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “You’ve got to have something in you.”

Watch for Pearman as Clemson edges closer to the start of the season.

Stephiylan Green || Defensive Tackle

With Peter Woods and Caden Story moving to the edge and defensive tackles Ruke Orhorhoro and Tyler Davis entering the 2024 NFL draft, Green is looking to take a more prominent role with the Tigers this upcoming year.

During the spring game, he put up a stat-stuffing line of six tackles, four sacks and four tackles for losses, leading the Orange team’s defense in all three categories. As a mid-year enrollee in 2023, Green had to adjust his mental processes to match his physical play, helping him feel more natural on the field.

“I’m going to get to that QB for sure,” he said. “I’m going to be in there, get the game plan right, know what to do … I’m more of a leader now; I got a lot of confidence in myself, so I’m ready to play now.”

Green looks to be one of the premier defensive tackles in Clemson’s rotation this upcoming season.

Adam Randall & Antonio Williams || Wide Receivers

As many Clemson wide receivers sat out for the spring game, Williams and Randall were able to showcase their progress on the field and lead the receiving room. With Brannon Spector and Beaux Collins having entered the transfer portal recently, the necessity for consistent wide receiver play has grown tremendously.

Saturday, Williams and Randall showed significant improvements in health, leadership and performance.

The two combined for nine catches on 14 targets for 147 yards, including a 55-yard bomb of a throw from Cade Klubnik to Randall in the final two minutes of the third quarter.

While Williams earned freshman All-American honors in 2022 and is productive when healthy, he could not stay on the field last season, playing in just five games all year.

Randall, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound rising junior, plans to have a breakout season as he feels fully healthy and comfortably experienced in his role heading into next season.

“(We’re) hungry and ready to prove ourselves. (In) recent years, I feel like we haven’t played to the standard that is here at Clemson for receivers, so this is our prove it year,” Williams said. “We’re just ready to prove that we can play to that level.”

A.J. Hoffler and Jahiem Lawson || Defensive Ends

Rising sophomore Peter Woods is set to run out as a starting edge defender opposite of T.J. Parker in August, leaving Hoffler and Lawson to go unmentioned by most due to Clemson’s pre-existing star power at the position.

Hoffler, a rising sophomore, proved himself to the Tigers in the spring game from start to finish. After playing in seven games last year, Hoffler looked ready to start playing more meaningful minutes as he racked up five tackles, one sack, two and a half tackles for a loss and a pass breakup.

“He’s a natural pass-rusher, but he’s big,” Swinney said. “The game’s just got to slow down for him a little bit … it was good for him to have some success there.”

Like Hoffler, Lawson, a rising redshirt sophomore, started quickly and never took his foot off the gas. He showed his on and off-ball skills by recording two tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and an interception.

Having an edge rusher like Lawson who can play perfect man-to-man coverage while having good enough hands to go up and make the interception could be a game-changer for Clemson’s defensive schemes.

“Jaheim’s coming, he’s on the rise. It’s important to him; he plays with a high motor, he’s tough, very competitive kid, and it’s good to see that,” Swinney said. “He’s athletic, you know here he is covering the wheel route out of the backfield … he played receiver for a long time.”

Both young talents look to be in the front seven’s deep rotation for the 2024-25 season.

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About the Contributors
Angelo Feliberty
Angelo Feliberty, Senior Reporter
Ashleigh Snyder
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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