And so it begins...

CLEMSON - Simply put, it's a great time of year to be a college football fan.

Somewhere shortly before 6 o'clock Friday evening, the Clemson football team will take to the practice fields for the first time in preparation for the 2011 season.

It's an annual tradition, not only for the team, but for fans as well.

Let's be honest, if you are reading a web site like this in early August, you are a diehard of sorts. You live and die with every practice report written, every insider tidbit on the incoming freshmen posted and every photo gallery published.

The start of preseason camp means the faucet of information which has been cutoff since the end of practice is now flowing again with the sweet nectar of knowledge.

Simply put, it's a great time of year to be a college football fan.

Just hours away from the start of preseason camp, there are no losses to diagnose from the previous week. There are no quarterback controversies. There are no issues on the offensive line or questionable play calls made by a coordinator.

There's just optimism. The kind of optimism that leads you to believe it could be the kind of year you actually want it to be.

You know, the kind of year that makes you forget about the disappointments of previous seasons.

If you are a Clemson fan, maybe this new offense under Chad Morris is the real deal. Maybe Andre Ellington is 100 percent and is poised to win the ACC Player of the Year award. Maybe Stephone Anthony is the next Anthony Waters.

And hey, maybe Tajh Boyd is ready to set the college football world on fire.

In Atlanta, there's hope that Synjyn Days or Tevin Washington is the next Josh Nesbitt under center.

At Florida State, there's talk of the Seminoles "being back." E.J. Manuel is the next best thing to sliced bread and Jimbo Fisher is the only coach on the planet who knows what he's doing.

At least, that's what they think in Tallahassee. And that's fine.

The point is, sitting here on Aug. 5, anything is possible. Anything.

The next month, of course, will give us plenty to talk about. From position battles to special teams consistency to freshman wide receivers, it will all be overanalyzed to the point of exhaustion.

That's what we do. As a sports society, especially when it comes football, there can never be enough information or reporting this time of year.

Thankfully, most schools are smart enough to keep reporters at a distance for preseason camp, otherwise we'd all be out there trying to turn an expected sneeze by a freshman lineman into breaking news.

Can you imagine the constant blabbering that would be posted day in and day out if practice was actually open this upcoming month? It would be too much. Too much access. Too much over-analyzing. Too much everything.

Still, there will be plenty to talk and write about the next 30 days with the access we do have. Plenty of notebooks to be written. Plenty of videos to be posted. Plenty of position battles about third team tackles and back up holders to report on.

But right now is my favorite time of the year by far.

There are no questions about games. No injuries to worry about. No bad calls. Just football.

College football.

It's almost here. And, honestly, it can't start soon enough.

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