CUTigers.com continues our countdown to kickoff series by taking a look at starting center Tommy Sharpe. Everyone and their brother had Sharpe penciled in on the second team in 2003, but he's fought his way to the top of the depth chart once again. Can he hold of redshirt freshman Dustin Fry for playing time?
OL Tommy Sharpe
Westover High School
An undersized lineman that has scraped his way to a starting position for the Tigers entering his junior season. After only be offered by Valdosta State and Georgia Southern out of high school, the Tigers moved in and snatched him up. Three years later, he's the starting center entering the 2003 regular season.
Sharpe was brilliant during the regular season finale against the South Carolina Gamecocks last year- helping pave the way for a late fourth quarter surge in the running game, and a resounding Clemson win. After making his first career start last year against Georgia Tech, Sharpe emerged as the starter at center late in the season. He holds the same position on the first team entering fall practice.
Sharpe was a sophomore walk-on that was originally thought of as a long snapper. After the coaching staff tried to adjust his technique, it became apparent that a position change might be in order.
Sharpe will have some serious competition this year from Dustin Fry, a much heralded redshirt freshman that is expected to push for playing time. Fry holds the size advantage, reporting in at over 310+ pounds, he's also a workhorse in the weight room, but Sharpe still had the edge on him coming out of spring practice.
Tommy Bowden has always been a fan of the underdog- and Tommy Sharpe. "I prefer the underdog role," Bowden told the Greenville News last year. "A lot of those guys work hard. They're not blessed with God-given talent, so they have to work extremely hard to be successful. You like to see a guy work hard and have it pay off for him. It just goes to show that heart and desire have a lot to do with it."
Sharpe isn't the most imposing lineman on the field, but he's gotten the job done when his team has desperately needed him. Looking towards fall practice, Sharpe has held his spot on the first team, but he's going to be pushed for playing time once the regular season is underway. Dustin Fry is bigger, and he's also stronger, but Sharpe still has more experience and the coaches know what he's going to be capable of on gameday.