Post Spring Analysis: The Specialists

With the departure of senior Aaron Hunt, the Tigers were in search of a placekicker this spring. By all accounts, it appears as though they've found one in junior Stephen Furr.

For the first time in 4 years, the Tigers won't have the luxury of having Aaron Hunt back as their starting placekicker this fall.

Hunt was a dependable specialist during this career, but perhaps he's best remembered for connecting on a 25-yard field goal as a true freshman to defeat South Carolina 16-14 to close out the 2000 regular season.

This spring, three players battled it out to become the next potential hero to thwart the Gamecocks, as Cole Chason, Jad Dean, and Stephen Furr all tried to make their mark as Hunt's replacement.

The end result of that three-man competition was somewhat obvious: Stephen Furr will be the Tigers' first-team kicker headed into the start of fall practice.

Furr displayed ample leg strength from over 50 yards away and also was amazingly accurate during each of the three major scrimmages of spring ball.

He also was the Tigers' most consistent kicker. The ball always seemed to come cleanly off his foot, and he never seemed to experience any shanks.

"Right now, we are trying to find someone who can compete with Stephen Furr," said Tommy Bowden. "He's probably been the most consistent guy and our best kicker this spring."

Backing up Furr will be Jad Dean, who undoubtedly has the strongest leg of any punter/kicker on the team.

Dean's power has really never been in question actually. After all, he's connected from as far away as 60+ yards on the practice fields during his first year at Clemson.

"Distance has never been a problem," said Bowden. "He had the distance on a 56-yarder into the wind at one point this spring."

"We are trying to find someone to compete with Stephen Furr right now," said head coach Tommy Bowden.
While Dean's leg strength has never been questioned, his accuracy has. The transition of moving from the tee to the ground has been a difficult one for the Greenwood native, and he'll now take the summer to try and regroup to stage one more attempt to overtake Furr this fall.

"I know I can do it," said Dean. "I've been able to do a lot better in practice, it just didn't translate over into the scrimmages."

At punter, Cole Chason has established himself as the starter once again.

You may remember Chason also attempting to take over the placekicking duties, but Coach Bowden elected to keep him exclusively as a punter at the midway point of spring practice.

"Until Cole is a little more productive as a punter, I'm cutting back on his field goal kicking," said Bowden. "He needs to be the first team punter first, then he can start thinking about the other."

Chason managed to not have one single punt blocked in 2003, averaged a respectable 38.6 yards per punt, and also didn't fumble any snaps. Nevertheless, his consistency always seemed to be a question mark, and he'll be challenged this fall once again by walk-on Chris Wiksell.

Handling the kickoffs in 2004 will be Jad Dean.

Dean, who was responsible for kickoff duties last year, continued to excel in that area throughout spring practice and routinely hit a majority of his kickoffs into the back of the endzone. Top Stories