Spotlight on Receivers

CLEMSON – At first glance of the depth chart going into spring football practice, the one position that really jumps out is that of wide receiver, which appears very thin and somewhat inexperienced. <br>

When redshirt freshman Aaron Kelly is listed as a starter, while at the same time redshirt senior Gene Pate and redshirt freshman Andrew Diomande are listed as second string, that's the first clue that the Tigers might have some issues at wide receiver.

And that's one reason Clemson coach Tommy Bowden is hoping one or more of the lesser known players step to the forefront. And the depth problem is another reason why at least two incoming true freshmen could see significant playing time.

"I think we are going to do that anyways because we signed some guys that we are really pleased with from a talent standpoint," Bowden said. "Those guys will get an early look in August, regardless. …

"It does look a little thin initially. But again, you go back to the analogy you only have one ball. I know Rob had a guy with 100-plus catches, something like that. So if one guy becomes the major producer, we can feature one guy, like we've done in the past."

But it's not just at wide receiver that Bowden is looking for quality in numbers. It's at every single position and discovering that talent is his primary goal for spring practice. However, there are several other objectives as well.

"Finding the top 11 guys on offense and then the next best 11 (is the goal)," Bowden said. "Same thing defensively. From a personnel standpoint, making sure we are getting the best guys on the field, especially with new coordinators, it might take a little bit longer than normal because these guys are a little unfamiliar.

"That's good and that's bad. That's good because if there is a guy that has been discouraged, it's kind of a new light for that type of case. Then, it's going to be understanding schemes. That's pretty much normal, but it's unique because we are changing some terminology. And then leadership. Defining who's going to be in the leadership roles. Based on the finishing up our next to last 5:30 in the morning workout, you can see some of the chemistry and morale and personality of the team starting to gel a little bit."

There are, however, areas where Bowden feels comfortable –defensive line and of course quarterback. But he still expects to see improvements in them as well.

"(I like the numbers on the line), and if we stay injury free, which is going to important, and with a freshman or two going in there, I think we can plug the holes that we might have," he said. "But we have to see how we are coming out of the spring how much help we are going to need from freshmen."

Then there's quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who Bowden is expecting to have a big spring and senior season.

"If you look at (offensive coordinator) Rob (Spence's) background, in this particular case, with going to a new place and having a senior, or going to a new place and having a freshman, he's always had immediate productivity with passing percentage and completion percentage, and completion ratio," Bowden said. "He's a fifth-year senior, and a stable guy. He's pretty level headed and constant. I would be disappointed if he doesn't have a productive year." Top Stories