The defending ACC champion Clemson Tigers stepped back on the football practice field Monday afternoon ready to dig deep and put in the work needed to take the final step toward winning a national championship. The Tigers fell just shy of topping Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game last month and began putting in a year’s worth of work toward getting back to that national stage. They opened spring practice with some encouraging news regarding wide receiver Mike Williams, who was cleared to practice with the team.
“He is going to do everything,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, per TigerNet.com. “We are just not going to tackle him to the ground. He is going to do all the 1 on 1’s, all the skelly, all the team pass. He is going to do everything we do. We are just not going to tackle him so we when we go scrimmage he will not scrimmage.”
Williams is coming off a small fracture in his neck that was suffered in Clemson’s 2015 season-opener against Wofford. He crashed into a goal post as he was making a touchdown grab and the injury put him on the sideline for the remainder of the regular season. A return for Clemson’s College Football Playoff run was under consideration, but Williams made the decision it was best to hold off a comeback until the following season. Swinney and the Clemson staff will continue to proceed with caution with Williams, but Swinney is clearly optimistic about the status of Clemson’s leading receiver from 2014 for the upcoming season.
“If we were playing this spring he could play, but really we just want to kind of get his confidence back where it needs to be and when we get back in camp he will be full go.”
Swinney also provided an update on the status of another wide receiver. Deon Cain, who was suspended by the program after a failed drug test last December, will not go through spring football practices. He will, however, join in team meetings and workouts. He will attend practices, but not compete in a physical fashion.
“I really don’t need to see him run a comeback, to be honest with you,” Swinney said, again per TigerNet.com. “I am not worried about the football side of Deon Cain. The football side of Deon Cain is going to be special if I can get him dialed in on other things that really are more important.”
Clemson opens the 2016 season on the road at Auburn on September 3. Clemson’s spring game is scheduled for April 9.