C.J. Gaddis was all set to live up to those lofty expectations, but the coaching staff at Clemson had other ideas.">
C.J. Gaddis was all set to live up to those lofty expectations, but the coaching staff at Clemson had other ideas.">

The Scoop on C.J. Gaddis

When the head coach labels someone yet to start their second year on campus as "the best athlete on campus," great things are immediately anticipated. <BR><BR> C.J. Gaddis was all set to live up to those lofty expectations, but the coaching staff at Clemson had other ideas.

Gaddis was moved after just nine practices from backup quarterback to quarterback, much to the redshirt freshman's chagrin, over to defense, where he'd never played in his life. The move caught him, and most onlookers, by surprise. If he wasn't going to play quarterback, he at least wanted to play wide receiver, where he could touch the ball and display the kind of athletic ability that made head coach Tommy Bowden utter those words.

Instead, the only way he'd now grab hold of the pigskin was if he made an interception while playing at cornerback. As of now, he's listed as a backup cornerback, who should see a lot of playing time in nickel defenses.

"Not to be arrogant or anything, but I always knew I had the skills to go over (to defense) and (go pro), or at receiver or any other field position, just because of being the kind of athlete I am," Gaddis said.

"I realize I've got a lot more talent and there's a lot more things I can do with the ball or without the ball that other players can't do. So it wasn't really a thing for me to realize that I can go professional with it. It was just more of a thing of is this what I wanted to do. That's why I got thrown all out of whack and everything about the situation."

It took some talking to by the coaching staff and some understanding on his part for him to realize that the fastest way for him to play and showcase those talents was in the defensive backfield.

Gaddis has accepted his fate – for the time being.

"I felt I wanted to be at receiver just because it's offense," he said. "I really didn't know where I was going to be at the time because I was just so confused on what I wanted to do. Right now, they say this is the quickest way for me to get on the field and I feel like I'm going to get on the field and do a lot of things.

"I felt I wanted to be at receiver just because it's offense," Gaddis said.
"That's the only reason I'm still over here. It's been accepted and I'm going with it now and I'm going to do it. So, it's no biggie."

Defensive coordinator John Lovett is thrilled to have Gaddis on his side of the ball. However, he also feels as though Gaddis is trying to do too much, too fast.

"Now, that boy right there has got a world of talent," Lovett said. "He's still got a little too much on his plate. If he would just narrow down his focus a little bit and say, ‘Hey, let's just get this done.'

"He's worrying about kickoff returns, punt returns, ‘throw me the ball,' and this and that. And all of those are good concerns. But like I said, if you just narrow your focus down a little bit, get the first phase first. The first phase is being a good corner on defense. Then once you've got that down and don't have any questions, then you can move on to the next thing.

"The spring was a shock. He's made up his mind that this is what he wants to do, but he wants to do this and everything else, too. And that's OK. I can deal with that. But what he needs to understand, initially he just needs to get to first, and once he gets to first, he'll take off, because he'll steal second and third. He is very, very talented."

Cornerback Tye Hill, who also made the move from offense to defense, sees the talent even though Gaddis is still very rough around the edges.

"He hasn't complained too much. I think he's over it now. I think he cares now," Hill said. "He wants to play and I think he realizes that this is the quickest way for him to get on the field. And after he grasps all the plays and starts playing a little faster, there's no telling how good he can be.

"You can't question his athletically ability and that's what you've got to have to play corner. That's why I can't wait to see when he really grasps the defense."

Even though he might have been upset at first, Gaddis is learning his new position as fast as he can. He has taken it upon himself to devote his entire time to making himself the best cornerback he can be.

"Things are going pretty good," he said. "I just got over the situation. In a sense, I do want to play it. It was just better for me to get on the field and I'm going along with it. I'm working hard at it and trying to develop my skills over there as best I can.

"Sometimes it can be fun and sometimes it's really not. But the more I'm learning it, the more I enjoy it a little bit more. It's definitely not hard for me to accept it."

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