Fry Likes What He Sees

Coming into the 2003 season, there were question marks everywhere on the offensive line. Now, as we head into the bowl game and on into spring practice, those question marks are rapidly disappearing, as the Tigers' young trenchmen become a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.

While some football fans only focus their attention on how many touchdowns a quarterback throws for, or how many 100-yard games a running back has in a season, the offensive line is truly where the magic happens for a successful football team.

Ask any coach, and he'll tell you.

You can have all the skill position players in the world on your team. You can have Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, or Roger Craig and Hershel Walker, but it doesn't mean a thing unless you have someone to block for them.

At Clemson, it's no different.

One could easily make the case that the Tigers have as much skill at the quarterback and wide receiver positions as any team in the country this past season.

That has essentially been the standard since Tommy Bowden arrived in Tiger Town 5 years ago, but it was only recently that the offensive line started to perform at a high enough level to fully utilize that talent.

This year, with a 10-man rotation featuring just two seniors under the tutelage of assistant coach Ron West, the offensive line has come together in a big way.

"It's been a good year for us," said redshirt freshman and Ohio native Roman Fry. "We've had good leadership with William Henry and Greg Walker and all of the young guys have gotten some good experience by playing a lot of snaps."

Fry is one of 5 freshmen playing up front for the Tigers this year, along with Dustin Fry (redshirt), Nathan Bennett (redshirt), Brandon Pilgrim, and Marion Dukes.

"Using that 10-man rotation has been big," said Fry. "That's given us the ability to get in there and develop in game situations. So we've got a lot of young guys in there who are really developing. I'd say things look pretty good for us heading into next season when you look at who we've got coming back."

Roman has been a mainstay at left tackle this year, primarily serving as a back up to William Henry, but with Henry graduating, Fry will be instrumental in the Tigers continued growth next season.

"I see myself staying there," said Fry. "I played every position you can think of in high school: center, tight end, outside linebacker, and defensive end. Coach West has had me at left guard, and center, but I feel natural at left tackle and I'll probably stay there."

Just like almost every other player on the team, Fry points back to the FSU game as the turning point in the 2003 season. For whatever reason, the team came together and decided that it would no longer put up with losing the big game.

"Going into that game, we knew that we really needed a big win. We knew it. We went in there and executed well and after we got it, we just felt like we could beat anybody, and that's the key. That game just helped out so much from a mental standpoint. The line, the team, everybody, really came together after that game."

And now that the team has proven to the rest of the free world that it can compete with literally anybody in the country, the question on everyone's mind is, can that late season momentum carry over to the Peach Bowl on Friday?

According to Fry, it already has.

"The attitude on this team is so much different than what it was a year ago at this time," said Fry. "There's more focus because we know we've got our work cut out for us, but at the same time, we all feel like it's going to happen."

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