Let the Competition Begin

Georgia native Cullen Harper and Alabama native Tribble Reese will both sign with the Tigers today, but that's old news. The real excitment begins when these two signal callers hit the practice fields this fall.

It's almost over.

The Clemson coaches have finished their all of their visits, made all of their telephone calls, and completed all the legwork required to fill out the 2004 class at Clemson University. The remaining prospects that are still on the board will announce their decision later today, but for the most part, the 2004 recruiting class is very much set in stone.

Now comes the fun part: analyzing which players will contribute to the team through the early stages of their career.

At Clemson, the 2004 class has a whole host of prospects that could play early, but perhaps the most intriguing battle of all, won't really be made public for at least another year or so.

You know who I'm talking about.

The quarterbacks, and more specifically, incoming freshmen Cullen Harper (6-3, 200, 4.8) and Tribble Reese (6-3, 210, 4.7).

The two signal callers that are signing with the Tigers this year are bonafide gunslingers. They are athletes that can distribute the football to all parts of the field with both precision and authority.

And this fall, they'll get to battle it out to see who has the edge to claim the back up quarterback position behind Charlie Whitehurst in the coming years.

Harper, a native of Alpharetta, Georgia, was the first commitment for Clemson at quarterback in the 2004 class.

"Coach West was my main recruiter, but I also talked with Coach O'Cain," said the future Clemson QB. "They were really excited when I committed. I was just glad that I got it over with early on. Clemson really was the place for me, and I knew that from day one pretty much."

Reese, a native of Mountain Brook, Alabama, committed to the Tigers in early December, after a scintillating senior season that saw him draw attention from schools all across the country.

"I remember committing to Coach Swinney and Coach Bowden," said Reese. "I just loved the school, loved the campus, loved the stadium, loved everything about it. I knew that's where I ultimately wanted to go all along."

While both signal callers share an obvious passion for Clemson University, the two quarterbacks will bring similar, yet different skills to the table this fall.

"I've got a real strong arm," said Harper. "I can read defenses pretty well and I have good accuracy. I think I could work on my speed a little bit."

While Cullen has the cannon for an arm, Tribble, may be a little more mobile of the two. "I've got enough mobility to get around in the pocket and gain some yards if I need to," said Reese.

Harper suffered through a broken collarbone injury that forced him out of action nearly the entire season, but coaches from around the state of Georgia still thought of enough of him to invite him to play in the annual North-South All-Star game after the injury had healed.

"I'm fine now," said Harper of his setback. "I hurt it originally during preseason, but then I really heard it during my second game back and just decided to let hit heal the rest of the year. It's fine now."

Reese passed for over 2,400 yards and 24 TDs with only 4 INTs during his senior year. He's also an excellent student, boasting a 3.6 GPA and 1360 on SAT.

Both players are excited about what seems to lie ahead for the football program.

"I went to the Peach Bowl," said Harper. "It wasn't really a surprise to me. I knew Coach Bowden would have Clemson ready to play. They came out and showed what they could really do. I'm excited; they really came together this year."

Reese is just looking forward to experiencing running down the hill in front of 81,000 orange clad fans. "It was the most intense thing I've ever done," said Tribble after he ran down the hill on his official visit in January. "I can't imagine how it will be with the stadium is packed."

With the recruiting process now over, the attention of both players will now focus on the competition that lies ahead. After all, you can't have two starting quarterbacks on one football team.

"I'm anxious to get there to see how I do," said Harper. "To be honest, I'm ready to get up there right now."

Reese wholeheartedly agrees. "I can't wait, it's a dream come to true to be able to play at Clemson."

Whether it's Harper or Reese, it looks like the team will be left in good hands after Charlie Whitehurst throws his last pass in Tiger Town.

And they'll both have the next few years to figure it all out.

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