Many fans are wondering how Kelvin Grant has performed through the first week of spring practice. According to Clemson wide receivers' coach Dabo Swinney, the early returns have been nothing but positive.
"Kelvin is a starter for us right now," said Swinney after practice last week. "Even if that's by default (with the graduation of Kevin Youngblood), it's his job to lose. He hasn't missed anything we've asked him to be at and he's doing better in practice. And that's good, because we need him."
Grant, who caught just 12 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown a year ago, is clearly one of the most gifted athletes on the team. Whether or not he keeps his starting position, remains to be seen.
Early Names to Remember
Redshirt freshman DT Chris McDuffie has been a name that we've constantly heard earning the praise of head coach Tommy Bowden through the course of the first week of practice.
"We needed him to pick up where he left off after practicing for the Peach Bowl," said Bowden. "And he's done that up to this point."
Back up quarterback Will Proctor also appears to have solidified himself behind Charlie Whitehurst and ahead of C.J. Gaddis. "Will had a done a good job for us," added Bowden.
|Will Proctor's development will be of prime importance when the Tigers return from spring bredak next week.|
Another pleasant surprise, (if you want to call it that) has been wide receiver Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey moved to wide out from quarterback this offseason and appears to be poised to take over the role vacated by Derrick Hamilton.
The converted quarterback caught two 30-yard passes from Charlie Whitehurst during a controlled scrimmage on Thursday that helped lead to a touchdown.
Outside of that performance, he's also been one of the most electric players to touch the ball on the practice fields this spring.
"He's coming along good," said Swinney. "And I think he's really going to be a special player for us before he leaves. The thing with Chansi is that he's got a real advantage because he knows the offense. So that part is real helpful from a coach's standpoint. He doesn't look at you like a deer in the headlights."
The All-Elusive 2nd Team Cornerback
Clemson will return all four starters in the secondary this fall, but there still remains several rather large question marks on the second team.
Sergio Gilliam returns this fall as the only reserve at cornerback that has any game day experience and Kyle Browning just moved over from running back to try and provide some extra depth.
How have these two players, along with redshirt freshman Robert Reese faired through their first two weeks of practice?
Fairly well according to most people we've spoken with.
"I think Kyle has made the switch faster than I did," said starting cornerback Tye Hill. "And with Robert and Serg, I don't think we'll lose much when those guys come into the game. They are both good athletes."
Special Teams Looking Strong
Bowden commented after the first day of practice in pads that all three of his placekickers made all of their field goal attempts against a live rush. Cole Chason, Jad Dean, and Stephen Furr have all looked solid the early going, but the early edge goes to Furr.
Chason, who Bowden said has a legitimate chance to challenge Dean and Furr as the Tigers' starting placekicker, has also looked strong in the early going as the starting punter.
"He looked real good for us today," Bowden said after Wednesday's practice. Chason finished sixth in the conference last year in net punting as the Tigers' starter.
|You can count on C.J. Gaddis seeing the field somewhere this fall, but the question is where? QB, WR, RB, or CB? The answer likely lies in his hands at the conclusion of spring practice.|
C.J Gaddis is just now starting to make some of the plays at quarterback that many have expected him to, but will it be enough to keep him there this fall?
Bowden admitted last Thursday that not having Gaddis on the field would be like leaving one of your top offensive weapons on the bench.
If Gaddis can't beat out Will Proctor, he'll likely move to another position this fall. But don't hold your breath just yet; Bowden said that they won't even consider a move for Gaddis until after spring practice concludes.
"We may sit down with him after spring practice and present him some options, but not before then," said Bowden.
Gaddis made a big running play when flushed out of the pocket Thursday in the Tigers' first scrimmage of spring practice.
This Week's Gameplan
During spring break, many of the players are returning home to rest, while others are going to places as far away as the Bahamas.
For the coaching staff, Tommy Bowden will make several stops on the IPTAY circuit, and many of the assistant coaches will be reviewing game film of Wake Forest, the Tigers' first opponent of 2004.
The Demon Deacons have been a thorn in the side of Clemson football program in each of the last two seasons, but you can be sure that the same problems that arose in Winston-Salem last November, will be nowhere to be found this fall in Death Valley.