Babalola May Switch to Offense

CLEMSON – Ever since the first day Olu Babalola arrived on the Clemson campus to play basketball, several observers have thought with his physique and athleticism that he'd make a good tight end, linebacker or defensive end. <BR>

After four years of playing hoops for the Tigers, Babalola has decided to give football a shot. He worked out with the team Monday night, wearing shorts, a practice jersey and a helmet.

He'll start out at defensive end and will also likely be looked at as a tight end, Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden said.

"He could be on offense in two days," he said. "I'm kind of excited about it. I really like his enthusiasm."

With a chiseled 6-foot-5, 245-pound body, Babalola looks like a football player. Now, he and everybody else will get a chance to see if he actually is one. Babalola will wear pads for the first time on Wednesday.

"He's a heck of a basketball player, I know that," defensive line coach Marion Hobby said. "I saw him on the basketball court and I noticed him then. I'm sure he's athletic enough. There's no doubt. He has a great frame. He's gorgeous.

"I was really happy and surprised to see him. I got the biggest joy in the world when he walked into my meeting room."

Babalola said he's taking this serious and wants to see what happens. He also said he ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash his freshman year of college.

"Everybody in the world wanted me to try it, including my mom," he said. "I'm going to try everything."

Babalola said he played for about a month in high school, but the games conflicted with his AAU basketball and so he had to give up playing on the gridiron.

Bowden and Hobby each said the hardest part for Babalola will be learning proper techniques, regardless of what position he plays, and the physical pounding he'll take on every single play.

"It depends on how tough he is and how bad he wants to do it," Bowden said. "He's going from a contact sport to a collision sport and there's a difference."

Babalola said the only way he won't stick with the team is if he's not listed on the two-deep list. And considering that the Tigers are thin at tight end and defensive end, there's a real possibility he could see significant playing time.

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