Clemson Spring Practice 2024: Exciting Battle Taking Place for Starting Center Spot

It goes without saying that being good up front is imperative for any offense, and Clemson football is no exception.

Struggles along the offensive line in recent years have hampered the Tigers’ offense, but with the addition of line coach Matt Luke, things are trending in the right direction. This spring, the battle for the starting center position is heating up and there are several strong candidates who could become the quarterback of the offensive line.

Entering spring practice, redshirt junior Ryan Linthicum has been seen as the most likely candidate to take over the starting center spot, but he is being pushed by several teammates who have also been impressive this spring.

Harris Sewell and Trent Howard are also working hard to make an impression on Coach Luke, and Linthicum knows he cannot take anything for granted. Head coach Dabo Swinney likes what he has seen from this trio of lineman so far this spring, and believes the line is in a good place going forward, including at the center position.

“It’s been good,” Swinney said. “We got three guys that are really getting all the snaps right now. Really four. Chap Pendergrass is getting some snaps in there as well. All three of those guys are battling. A long way to go. Now that we’re getting into some live type stuff, it starts getting easier to evaluate.”

Of benefit to Clemson, there is a veteran presence up front. Linthicum is entering his fourth year at Clemson and saw his playing time greatly increase last season. Linthicum has tallied 103 offensive snaps in his career over nine games. Of that total, 59 of those game reps came over a four-game stretch in 2023, including 15 snaps against Florida Atlantic when Clemson’s offensive line did not give up a sack.

Another candidate and veteran presence is sophomore Harris Sewell. Sewell, a former top recruit from Odessa, TX (Permian High School), Harris has logged 460 offensive snaps in 10 games, with the final five games of 2023 being starts. He had a breakout freshman season and is a quick developer. Should Sewell win the starting spot, he would have to change positions on the line, but it may be of more value for Sewell to stay where he is.

Trent Howard provides Swinney and Luke with a third option to consider at the center position. Howard is a player who has worked hard and put in his time to become a starter. Howard is a fifth-year senior who was a part of Clemson’s 2020 recruiting class, and who has seen his playing time steadily increase over each season of his career. In 2023, Howard played 257 snaps in 10 games, starting three of those, and has logged 382 career snaps over 23 games.

Look for all three of these linemen to have a say in who will start for Clemson. The competition between them has been a true center of attention at spring practice.

Clemson finished 9-4 in 2023, snapping its streak of 10-win seasons, and failed to play for the ACC championship. If the Tigers are going to return to national prominence, they will have to improve on offense. Spotty line play led to Swinney releasing former coach Thomas Austin of his duties as he brought in Matt Luke, one of the most highly regarded line coaches in the country, and that move has already payed great dividends.

As the pieces continue to fall into place, the offensive line could have the Clemson offense, and the Tigers, back front and center of the college football world.

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