The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Scan the field: Mid-year enrollees to watch at Clemson’s spring game

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Freshman quarterback Christopher Vizzina (17) has earned praise at practice from coaches and teammates ahead of the Tigers’ 2023 spring game. Pictured with starting quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) on March 6, 2023.

Spring practice has been in full swing for over a month now, much to the joy of loyal Clemson fans, who are eager for some football action. With the spring game set for Saturday, fans will get their first look at the Tigers’ mid-year enrollees, and there are five who should draw a lot of eyes come kick-off time. 

Peter Woods, Defensive Lineman (No. 11)

If there is one player that coaches and teammates alike cannot stop talking about, it’s Peter Woods. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive lineman was the highest-ranked recruit Clemson landed this past recruiting cycle, garnering the No. 4 overall prospect spot in the nation from ESPN after finishing high school with 177 tackles (50 for loss) and 24.5 sacks. 

Woods has mainly been stationed on the interior of the line, but defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall believes that he “can play anywhere he wants to on the D-line. He’s just that good.”

So far, Woods has earned plenty of comparisons from his teammates and coaches. Defensive tackles coach Nick Eason, also head coach of Team Orange, has drawn likenesses between the freshman and Clemson legends like Grady Jarrett and Dexter Lawrence. 

“I will say that he has the talent level to obviously be an All-American, one of the best that’s ever been through Clemson,” Eason said. 

“He’s a dog. That’s pretty much it,” graduate cornerback Malcolm Greene added.

T.J. Parker, Defensive Lineman (No. 12)

The defensive linemen class this year was touted as exceptionally gifted, and it has not disappointed. Tomarrion Parker, who goes by T.J., has been a standout defensive end at practices, especially in the absence of veterans Xavier Thomas and Justin Mascoll as they recover from injuries. 

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Parker certainly has the build of a skilled pass rusher, which has earned him praise from Swinney. 

“He’s naturally explosive, he’s naturally strong in his lower body and he’s got a high football IQ. He’s picked things up,” Swinney said. 

Further praise for Parker has been offered by teammates and coaches alike, including Hall. 

“He’s what we call a plug-and-play guy,” Hall said. “He’s come in day one, and you can put him in, and he can play, and he can execute. That’s what I wanted when I recruited him, and that’s what we got.” 

Expect to find Parker lined up on the outside of the front seven this weekend. 

Harris Sewell, Offensive Lineman (No. 55)

Sewell is no stranger to high stakes under the bright lights, as Odessa Permian High School, where Sewell started all four years, is the very same which inspired the TV series Friday Night Lights. 

Sewell has been taking some reps at left guard with the first team in the absence of Marcus Tate and Walker Parks, who were both out this spring due to injury. Earning these initial reps is no small feat considering how many teammates have much more experience. 

“He takes everything to heart. He listens,” graduate lineman Will Putnam said. “I sit next to him in the film room, and he takes notes on everything. You tell him maybe a mistake he made, and he corrects it the next play, which I think is huge.” 

Swinney is excited to see Sewell in action as well, saying that “he can play both, really three positions. He’s very athletic, and he’s got the mentality. So, he’s a rare guy that physically and mentally kind of matches up. And so he’ll help this football team for sure. No doubt.” 

Noble Johnson, Wide Receiver (No. 3)

Of the four wide receiver recruits in the 2023 signing class, Johnson is the only mid-year enrollee. He has consistently turned heads at practice as he proves his worth in an already talented wide receiver room. 

“He’s going to be a stud,” starting quarterback Cade Klubnik said. “He’s got all the physical attributes and wants to learn, great route running skills just early on, and he’s going to be a great player for us. He’s going to do great things, and I’m super excited about him.”  

Johnson, who ESPN tabbed as Clemson’s “newcomer to watch,” has ensured coaches are doing just that. 

“He’s one that’s getting a ton of reps right now,” offensive coordinator Garrett Riley said. “And physically, he’s a gifted guy, and so, we just got to kind of bring him along, and he’s already made strides here in just a couple of days.”

While it is uncertain just where Johnson will stand on a depth chart that includes talented sophomores Antonio Williams and Adam Randall, fans should expect to see him receive some reps this weekend. 

Christopher Vizzina, Quarterback (No. 17)

Facing off against Klubnik, Vizzina, alongside Hunter Helms, will highlight Team Orange’s quarterbacks. 

Although Vizzina is several years younger than most of his teammates, this age gap hasn’t affected the 17-year-old’s play in practice. 

“I mean, it’s all kind of going fast and new, as you would expect for a young quarterback, but the guy’s not fazed,” Riley said. “He’s a very poised individual.”

Swinney added to Riley’s sentiments regarding Vizzina’s physical performance, saying the following: “It’s just easy to see the talent. The kid can run, I mean really run. And he’s got a big arm and can absolutely rip it.” 

Vizzina will likely play behind Helms as Team Orange’s backup signal-caller on Saturday, but fans will still get a glimpse of his potential. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Grace O'Donnell
Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *