It would be unfair at this point to try and compare the 2002 class with those of the first three years under Tommy Bowden because these players have yet to reach their full potential.
Of course, many of these players have already stepped into major roles for the Tigers.
However in most cases, it is unfair to "give up" on a player from these classes if they are still enrolled at Clemson because we don't know for sure whether or not they will eventually land a major role somewhere on the team.
What we can do at this point, however, is assess what we know from the 2002 class.
- Impact Players: Gaines Adams, Nathan Bennett, Cole Chason, Duane Coleman, Dustin Fry, Roman Fry, Kelvin Grant, Justin Miller, and Chansi Stuckey All of the player mentioned above have seen playing time in 2003 and are projected to be major contributors in 2004.
- Non-Impact: Irvin Brisker, Chris Carter, Jeff Francouer, Brandon Jamison, Buddy Williams, and Tymere Zimmerman either never enrolled at Clemson, or enrolled but have since left.
- Role Players: Brandon Cannon, Donnell Clark, Cory Groover, Vontrell Jamison, Kelvin Morris, and Anthony Waters all appear headed for the two-deep depth chart during spring practice.
That 35% already outranks the 29% that the 2001 class has placed in the impact player category despite the fact that many of these kids are playing as red shirt freshmen.
To this point, 23% of the 2002 class will not make any impact at Clemson, which would make it the lowest non-impact percentage outside of Tommy Bowden's first class at Clemson.
The Tigers encountered a bit of bad luck when Francouer opted to play professional baseball, instead of enrolling at Clemson. Brisker, Carter, and Zimmerman never enrolled, Jamison had academic problems, and Williams was kicked off the team last fall.
Kelvin Morris, who has obiviously not yet been declared eligible, is working hard to get his academics in order so that he may play his final season, but with his size and athleticism, he figures to see the field early and often should he make the grade. Jamison, Groover, and Waters are also two players that could easily become impact players in 2004.
And depending on how things work out, Tim DeBeer, Brad Lee, Gerald McCloud, Reggie Merriweather, Will Procter and could improve their positions as they mature into the program and or switch positions to maximize their talents.
2003 Class…A Ton of Potential
Surprisingly, there have been a good number of players from the 2003 class that have stepped onto the playing field as true freshmen.
Tremaine Billie, Jad Dean, Marion Dukes, Brandon Pilgrim, and Sergio Gilliam all avoided red shirts and appear poised to make major contributions at Clemson in their careers.
Most importantly, only one player from this class is not enrolled at Clemson. Brian Staley is the only player of the 17 signees from 2003 that defiantly won't make and impact at Clemson University.
And even LB/DE Kwam Williams, who was a very addition to the 2003 class has made some noise during his redshirt freshman campaign.
Everybody has their own unique way in identifying how good a particular recruiting class can be. My formula is simply one of many out there that tries to compare and contrast one class to another. Although my system is not perfect, I think it does highlight some things that we tend to overlook after signing day.
If you polled Clemson fans, the vast majority would have said the 2001 class is the best class Bowden has signed. However, the numbers don't necessarily back that up when comparing to the other classes (especially 1999).
Stay tuned, because next year at this time we will be able to officially finalize the 2001 statistics as well as get our first true picture of the 2002 class.