One of the biggest goals for any team heading into a spring game in any year is coming out of it with no major injuries. Unfortunately for Clemson, that wasn’t the case in 2013.
The Tigers announced in a press release that tight end Sam Cooper and quarterback Chad Kelly suffered torn ACLs during Saturday’s annual spring football game. The players incurred the injuries nine plays apart.
While the school stated in the release that “[t]he status for both players in 2013 is unknown at this time,” it’s highly unlikely either will be available for the upcoming season.
“This is very difficult for both players,” head coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement. “Both had really worked hard and done well this spring.”
The loss of Cooper would be by far the bigger of the two blows. The redshirt sophomore entered spring practice as the No. 1 tight end on the Tigers’ depth chart.
Last year, Cooper played in 13 games, starting three of those contests. He caught 10 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
Cooper’s position, though, has been an integral part of Clemson’s offense the past few years. The school noted that, over the past four years, Tigers tight ends had been responsible for a total of 218 receptions for 2474 yards and 32 touchdowns.
The 6-5, 250-pound Cooper had been expected to continue the run at the position that came with the likes of Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford.
“Sam is the most experienced tight end we have and this is a tough loss. He was coming into his own. We have some young, talented tight ends who are now going to have to step up.”
Kelly, the nephew of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, was a redshirt as a true freshman in 2012. He was not listed on the Tigers’ two-deep depth chart entering spring.