Top Five Questions for Spring Ball - #3

Which redshirt freshmen will be thrusted into the spotlight this spring? We continue to examine the top five questions for the Tigers' spring practice in this report. <BR>

#3: Which redshirt freshmen will make the biggest impact this spring?
Looking back to last season, there were only two true freshmen to actually see the field for the Tigers football team.

For all the hype surrounding many of the top prospects, just two actually played during the 2004 season: wide receiver La'Donte Harris and offensive lineman Barry Richardson.

Harris played in all 11 games, but managed just three catches for 21 yards in a back up role, while Richardson moved into the starting line up at left tackle, and was eventually named a freshman All-American by The Sporting News.

Looking ahead to spring practice, with just two players from the 2004 class having gameday experience, head coach Tommy Bowden will have a whole host of new faces to take a look at for playing time.

Players like Akeem Robinson, Brandon Croley, and Adrian Kindred are just some of the new names expected to make an impact.

However, with a new offensive and defensive coordinator on the Clemson coaching staff, don't be surprised to see even more new names rise to the surface.

Why?

For starters, there are two "new" positions on the Tigers' defense. The "bandit" and "cat safety" positions could open the door for several relatively unknown players to receive playing time.

"It's a little bit premature because all we can do right now is look at them in the weight room. You want to be cautious against pre-conceived notions about what guys can or can't do," said Koenning.

"The bottom line is that everything is open, and that's what one of the pluses of coming in to a new situation. It opens the door for guys that may not be getting the playing time they thought they should be getting. They are going to have that opportunity this spring."

In addition to Koenning's changes, new offensive coordinator Rob Spence will also be incorporating new players into his offensive scheme.

An increased focus on the running game could mean more opportunities for different players on the offensive line. Spence has also talked about using the tight end position more this year.

"I really think that one of the keys for our offense is the spring. We have to unearth and find who the players here are. We have to find out where our talent is," said Spence.

Without question, some of that talent that Spence is referring to will come from last year's class, where players like Akeem Robinson are poised for playing time.

Robinson enjoyed a strong fall camp last year as an offensive tackle, before the staff elected to redshirt him after the development of Richardson. This spring, he could have the opportunity to move to the defensive line.

Either way, Robinson is physically ready to compete for playing time somewhere.

The secondary is also another area of the team that could see several new names emerge.

"Some of the younger guys will have some opportunities there," said Koenning. "There's no question about that."

Brandon Croley and Chris Clemons were two of the more impressive players in the defensive backfield last year. And from a physical perspective, Croley appears to be ready to compete right now.

LB Cortney Vincent, DT Rashaad Jackson, and WR Aaron Kelly are three other names to keep an eye on. Jackson, in particular, appeared to be ready to play last year, before he broke his foot in mid-August.

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