An Early Look

With nearly every single member of the Clemson coaching staff commenting on the need for improvement at offensive tackle this spring, there's little doubt that at least one incoming freshman will be given a hard look at that position this fall.

The foundation has already been built.

With nearly every single member of the Clemson coaching staff commenting on the need for improvement at offensive tackle this spring, there's little doubt that at least one incoming freshman will be given a hard look at that position this fall.

And why not?

Both tackles in the 2004 class, Cory Lambert and Barry Richardson, will arrive this summer as two of the biggest offensive linemen ever play football for the Clemson Tigers.

Lambert, who currently stands in at 6-foot-7, 300 pounds, would certainly be an imposing figure in the line up. The same thing could be said of Richardson, who's even bigger at 6-foot-7, 330 pounds.

Sure, they're both freshmen, and playing Division I-A college football on the offensive line as a true freshman is no easy task. Today's college athlete is stronger, quicker, and in better shape than ever before. How can a player only 4 months removed from his high school graduation possibly compete with a seasoned, 5th year senior, who has already been through the ups and downs of 4 years of college football?

Good question, and the answer is simple. If he's good enough, he'll play. At least according to Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden.

"We'll give everybody a look this fall," Bowden said. "Whether that's on the offensive line, at receiver, defensive back, we'll give everybody a look. We want our best guys on the field."

That's almost a 180-degree turnaround that was adapted by Tommy Bowden from just a few years ago, especially on the offensive line, where the dominating philosophy was to redshirt everybody and anybody that signed in February.

What that means for either Lambert or Richardson is that they'll get their shot. And if one or both arrive this fall ready to compete, they'll get their chance to shine early in the 2004 regular season.

Of course, we could be getting ahead of ourselves here.

Keep in mind that both Marion Dukes and Roman Fry, the likely starters at right and left tackle respectively, went through several major changes this spring. Both had to become acclimated to their new position coach, Brad Scott, and Dukes missed a week of practice with a death in the family.

Surely, that had a role in their overall lack of consistency this spring.

"Some days it was there, some days it wasn't," said Bowden of his two tackles. "You want to see some consistency, but we just didn't get that at all this spring."

Lambert is the odds on favorite to at least see the field this fall. Perhaps it won't be in a starting capacity, but you have to figure he brings more to the table than several of the walk-ons that were being plugged in on the second team this spring.

He's got the size at 6-feet, 7-inches tall, 300 pounds. He's got the footwork- many coaches have raved about this aspect of his game from the very beginning. And he's certainly got the right attitude for early playing time.

"I'll do whatever the coaches want me to do," said Lambert. "I think I'll have a chance to play early, but it all depends on how things go for me once I get there."

Now all he has to do is go out there and prove himself.

Easier said than done of course, but if you are looking for one true freshman to get an early look this fall- look no further than Cory Lambert. He brings a lot to the table, from a physical standpoint, that will be difficult to match from anybody currently on the roster.

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