Ranking the men in the trenches
Brandon Thomas has the chance to be a big time NFL pick.
In this two part series Clemson247 ranks the offensive line based on each players probability of starting August 31 against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Clemson has the luxury of four returning starters along the offensive line and has several talented linemen who could push for playing time.
Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris prefers to play his five starters most of, if not all of every football game. The staff has done a solid job of developing the younger guys creating some fierce competition heading into the summer.
(Note: Players are ranked according to their chances of starting this year, not on overall talent level. Scale: 1-6, 6 means they will start to open the season, 1 means they will not be starting in the opener. All numbers barring injury.
Position: LT, LG, RT
Overview: Redshirt senior Brandon Thomas has been Swinney’s most versatile lineman the past three years. Thomas’ sophomore season he played left guard before switching to left tackle last offseason. The staff would love to move Thomas to his natural position, LG, where he will play in the NFL.
There have also been rumors he could make the switch to right tackle. The staff loves what Thomas brings to the field. As of this spring, Thomas currently stands in at 6’3 and weighs 305 pounds.
Starting Probability: 6
Clemson's offensive line has to keep the pressure off Tajh Boyd this season.
Overview: Tyler Shatley was brought over from the defensive tackle position last offseason and brought a physicality the offensive line had been missing in previous years.
Shatley started last season at right guard. Like Thomas, Shatley is also a redshirt senior. The Tigers enjoyed success in short yardage situations and Shatley’s play can be attributed to that. At the start of spring football, Shatley was 6’3, 295 pounds.
Starting Probability: 5
Overview: Redshirt junior right tackle Gifford Timothy left the Chick-Fil-A Bowl Game in the first quarter with a knee injury, but is back to strength, returning to full practice March 29.
Last season was Timothy’s first year starting at RT. This is another guy the coaches are really high on. He is very mature for his age. Timothy is now at 6’6 and weighs 310 pounds.
Starting Probability: 5
4- Ryan Norton
Position: C, LG
Overview: Norton, a redshirt sophomore, has spent his previous two years being groomed to be Dalton Freeman’s replacement at center. The coaching staff was very impressed with Norton his true freshmen year and he almost avoided a redshirt.
There have been rumors of moving Norton to left guard. Norton could be higher on this list, but his inexperience in game situations has tempered expectations. Has potential to start his final three years. Norton is currently at 6-3, 270 pounds.
Starting Probability: 4
Overview: Sophomore Isaiah Battle is one of the most physically imposing players on the Tigers roster. Battle was very impressive as a true freshman in the Tigers bowl win against LSU. Battle has the skill and talent to be the now and future at LT.
However, the staff has been repeatedly disappointed in the inconsistencies in Battles’ spring. Battle has been constantly in Morris’ doghouse. Battle will have to prove to the staff he is worthy to start in the season opener. Battle is now at 6’6, 280 pounds.
Starting Probability: 3