Rod Gardner was the Tiger's main threat. He could haul in the long ball and out jump any cornerback in the ACC, but there was never that one player you could really depend on to break the game open against a Top 10 team.
How will the Clemson football program take that next step? The step that strikes fear in the heart of the opposing team the minute the ball is snapped. The step where you know that one wrong move defensively and a touchdown will be scored.
In one word, recruiting.
Look no further than this year's class and Airese Currie. "Air" Currie, a Richland Northeast graduate from Columbia, SC is what you would call a speedster, and when I say speedster, I mean speed that leaves the opposing team's faster player in the dust.
Currie won the 100 and 200-meters this year in South Carolina and this past April and has posted a very strong 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. His time of 21.17 in the 200-meters is a new state record. Airese also had the fastest 100-meter time in the nation at an incredible 10.44 seconds.
Currie was chosen to play in two all-star games, the Shrine Bowl and the East-West All-Star Game, in San Antonio, Texas. He was unable to play in either game due to an ankle injury, however all doubts of the lingering effects of that injury were erased this spring when he dominated at the track and field championships.
Take a look at his accomplishments and rankings for a moment and marvel at the numbers:
- SC State Champion 100m and 200m
- Top 11 WRs in the nation by Max Emfinger
- #44 player in the nation by Tom Lemming
- #21 player in the nation by PrepStar
- #77 player in the nation by Student Sports Magazine
- #5 player in South Carolina by Mickey Plyler
- The State Newspaper Athlete of the Year
Put his kind of speed and talent on the field with incoming freshman Roscoe Crosby and experienced players like Kevin Youngblood, Jackie Robinson, and Matt Bailey and what you have is an explosive offense that can only be stopped by a small army.
Look for "Air" Currie to make an immediate impact this fall returning punts and kickoffs, and he'll also see significant time at wide receiver.
Tommy Bowden has indicated on more than one occasion that as many as two true freshmen could start on both sides of the ball.
I've got my money on Airese Currie being one of them.
A special thanks goes to SCPrepFootball.com for their contributions to this story.