Stabilizing force

CLEMSON - Heading into 2013, there was cause for concern with the departure of Dalton Freeman, but it didn't take long for Ryan Norton to put that to bed.

Norton started every game at center last season. Among Clemson offensive linemen, his 841 snaps were second only to All-ACC left tackle Brandon Thomas.

Now a redshirt junior, Norton is in position to vault himself into the conversation as an all-conference caliber of player. It doesn't stop there. He also wants to up the ante in the leadership department.

"You're always looking to improve," Norton said. "I'm trying to get a few guys with me and get them going. We're going to need as many as we can. It's a long season. We've just got to keep going."

With the question marks surrounding the Tigers' offensive line and the rest of the unknowns across the offense as a whole, Norton could provide some stability in the middle.

"I feel like I'm a pretty physical guy. My intelligence with the offense right now, I feel like I'm probably one of the guys that knows the most about the offense, but there's still tons I can improve on," he said. "I can improve on my knowledge of the offense. I can improve on my physicality.

"I can improve on everything in my game. I'm not trying to say I'm perfect."

This spring, Norton spent time learning a new position.

"I've gotten a good amount of work at guard and I've gotten a good amount of work at center, but mainly more center than guard," he said.

Make no mistake about it. Norton's home is at center.

"I'm more comfortable at center, because I've played there for a full year," he said. "I'm still trying to get the footwork at guard, but it's not something that I'm hesitant about."

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