Big shoes to fill

CLEMSON - Even before the arrival of Chad Morris, the tight end position was already a productive part of the Clemson offense.

Michael Palmer caught 43 passes for 507 yards and four touchdowns in 2009. A year later, Dwayne Allen hauled in 33 catches for 373 yards and a score.

Then, after Morris' arrival in 2011, the stats for the No. 1 tight end blew up. That season, Allen caught 50 passes for 598 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

In 2012, Brandon Ford had 40 receptions with 480 yards and eight touchdowns.

"I had two great role models before me -- Brandon Ford and Dwayne Allen," said Sam Cooper, the most experienced returning tight end on the Clemson roster.

Now a redshirt junior, Cooper knows he has big shoes to fill.

"Getting into the film room and watching tape is the best way to go about [stepping up]," he said.

Over his first two seasons, Cooper's caught 11 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He hopes to build upon those numbers in 2013.

"I'm just trying to make every play I can for the team. Whatever that number would be," he said.

Cooper added, "This offseason [I've] been working on ball skills, catching the ball, looking the ball in."

A two-star signee in the class of 2010, Cooper arrived to the Clemson campus weighing 230 pounds. He currently tips the scales at 250.

That size helps Cooper do what he does best -- push people around. Playing in a run-first system at The Ensworth School in Nashville, Cooper did plenty of blocking.

"Obviously, I'm a bigger body guy and have a pretty solid foundation in blocking," he said. "It's kind of what I like to bring to the table.

"But I'm trying to be as well-rounded as I can."

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