Projecting the Clemson Football depth chart: Guards

Both projected starters at guard for Clemson Football have a lot of experience, but they also have a dubious injury history.
Clemson offensive lineman Walker Parks (64) during the second quarter of the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl
Clemson offensive lineman Walker Parks (64) during the second quarter of the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

In theory, Clemson Football has two starting guards returning to play this season. As such the real competition would be for the second string positions on the depth chart.

Whether that theory holds up remains to be seen

Projected first-string: Marcus Tate (LG) and Walker Parks (RG)

Projected second-string: Colin Sadler, Harris Sewell

Reserves: Dietrick Pennington, Trent Howard, Mason Wade, Ronan O’Connell

The primary concern at guard is Parks’s recovery from the injury that sidelined him for most of the 2023 season. Parks was not a full participant in spring practices but was working on his rehab.

On the surface, there does not appear to be a reason why Parks won’t be fully recovered and ready to go for the regular season. The concerns are circumstantial. It isn’t always as simple for big men to recover from injuries the same way wide receivers or defensive backs do. Setbacks happen and are difficult to predict.

There is also the reality that Parks won’t have a full offseason to prepare. He is a veteran, and that will benefit him. Nonetheless, he isn’t on the field to work with first-year offensive line coach Matt Luke, who has the big task of turning the fortunes of the line around.

To sum up: Parks should be ready to play this fall, but it isn’t a slam dunk.

As such, the guys behind him will be important. Sadler stepped into the right guard position for the Orange team (which included the other four projected starters on the offensive line). Based on what we can glean, Sadler would be the sixth guy in line for the coaching staff, and they seem comfortable placing him at any of the guard or tackle positions.

Sewell is another player they are enthusiastic about. They have been cross-training him at center this spring, and sooner or later he seems destined to start taking snaps for the Tigers. Given the injury history of both Parks and Tate, the best-case scenario for Clemson is for Ryan Linthicum to take the reins at center for at least this season if not the next two. The team’s need for Sewell at one of the two guard spots is probably greater than their need for him to be a center (but keep your fingers crossed there).

Howard is a solid guy to be a depth piece for this offensive line. His experience makes him a solid fallback option at both guard and center if injuries deplete the team’s options.