3 Bold Predictions for the Clemson Spring Game

Fans shouldn't get too carried away with the Spring Game, but they should have some fun with it, so I will too. Here are three predictions for what we will see this Saturday in Death Valley.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney talks with wide receiver Misun Kelley (18)
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney talks with wide receiver Misun Kelley (18) / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson Football will split their roster and compete in the Orange vs White Spring Game this weekend. As a fan, I am glad the program still treats this like a real game, or at least as close to it as reasonably possible.

Some teams don’t even have a public event at the end of spring anymore. Some just open the practice to the public, but it isn’t a game or even a scrimmage. It’s just a practice the public can watch.

I love that the Tigers actually play a game, but I have learned my lesson over the years: I can’t put too much credence into what I see in a spring game. I have seen freshmen dazzle in a spring game and then hardly do anything else for the next four years. I’ve seen backups that looked like they were ready to challenge who barely played the next season. I’ve seen guys play cringeworthy in the spring that turned into All-ACC players the next fall.

I say all that to make sure that you, the reader, are aware that I understand we shouldn’t treat this exhibition like it’s a real game because I am about to get too carried away. There is no justifiable reason for me to have bold predictions for a Spring Game. I did it anyway.

Sammy Brown and Bryant Wesco will make us forget they are freshmen

It won’t take much, but it will happen. A play here and/or a play there. Brown and Wesco will do something impressive, and many of us will buy into the hype, and that’s not a bad thing. Fans should get excited. We should be reserved too but we all know that isn’t nearly as fun.

I don’t think either Sammy or Bryant will own the game. They are freshmen and they’ve only had fourteen practices to this point in their college careers (plus some bowl prep). They will make mistakes and be out of position a few times, but they will also do something that reminds us why they were highly-rated prospects. They are ballers and (at least a few times) they will ball, and we will fall in love.

Tink Kelley will re-introduce himself

If you have read my posts before, you know that I don’t think the Clemson fanbase is homogenous. Most fans are great, but there is a lunatic fringe made of multiple denominations. One of those is the Anti-Daniel crowd.

The Tigers do tend to show favoritism to the hometown high school, and it is fair to say that some of the deference shown to the players from Daniel High School can be head-scratching. Unfortunately, some fans take that too far and automatically presume Daniel's prospects are overrated.

Enter Misun ‘Tink’ Kelley.

Kelley was a late addition to the Class of 2023, and therefore the Anti-Daniel crown immediately labeled him a guy the Tigers threw a scholly at because they had one burning their pocket. The info given to us by coaches and players last fall indicated that Kelley was more than that.

We saw him briefly last season, but injuries kept him from really being a factor. I think this Spring Game will be Kelley’s chance to show everyone why the team was excited about him.

The White squad’s wide receiver group is depleted due to injuries. Kelley and Ronan Hanafin will be Chris Vizzina’s primary targets. He (presumably) will also be their primary return man, a role we expect him to occupy this fall.

We ‘met’ Kelley last season, but I predict we will get to know a lot more about him on Saturday, and we will approve.

We will see multiple touchdowns from walk-ons

Though I have professed my adoration for the Spring Game, I admit and accept that it serves a similar function as NFL preseason games. They are good for getting starters and primary rotational players some live snaps, but they are also important for coaches to look at the guys who aren’t normally getting snaps in games.

The Spring Game needs two full squads from a single roster that has some attrition due to injuries and illness. It is inevitable that by the end of the game, we will see walk-ons on the field. I understand why this irritates some fans. It is only natural to want to watch the players who will be the contributors come fall.

That doesn’t mean we won’t see some fun football from the walk-ons, and due to some of the injury attrition already referenced, I expect we will get a healthy dose. I think we will see at least one touchdown reception from a walk-on wide receiver and one rushing touchdown from a running back.

Every season I have one guy who rarely sees the field that I want to score. This season it is Blackmon Huckabee, Jr., who will be on the Orange team. Hampton Earle is a likely name for the White team.

At running back, Phil Mafah will get work for the Orange team, but will eventually give way to the other guys, which include Peyton Streko and Tristan Rigsby, both of whom are likely candidates.