CLEMSON, S.C. - While Clemson returns both its starting offensive tackles, offensive tackles and tight ends coach Danny Pearman said there's still much to be done to get to a satisfactory level.
Asked to assess his tackles' play this spring, Pearman said, "I would say just OK. We've got to do better on a more consistent basis."
Chris Hairston, a rising junior who's entering his second full season as a starter at left tackle, is again the Tigers' top tackle, but for the second straight year he hasn't faced stiff competition from a backup.
Jamarcus Grant, a rising senior, has been working as Hairston's backup this spring, but that's not necessarily etched in stone.
Highly regarded true freshman J.K. Jay is getting reps exclusively at right tackle, though the possibility exists for a move to the left side this fall.
"Right now it's Jamarcus at backup, or we'll look early in the fall at who can play there behind him [Hairston], Jamarcus or [Cory] Lambert or J.K., but J.K. needs to continue to get all the work he can just to be in a position to even try to help us this fall," Pearman said.
Jay is comfortable on the right side, having worked at the position throughout his high school days at Christ Church.
Asked if he plans to leave Jay at right tackle, Pearman replied, "Right now, but that could change."
Landon Walker went into the spring as the front-man at right tackle after starting 10 games and piling up 672 snaps last season, when he moved into the starting role after Lambert moved to left tackle to absorb the loss of Hairston.
But Pearman says the starting spot at right tackle isn't locked in.
"We're still trying to find a right tackle," he said. "Nobody wants to step up and take over the job."
Clemson does have another highly touted lineman who will arrive this summer in Brandon Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder who has been clocked in less than 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash. But the four-star prospect is expected to redshirt this season.
"There are some good signs. It's not all bad," Pearman said. "We just need to be more consistent at both positions."