Bowden Pleased with Freshmen

CLEMSON – Just before 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, the first group of Clemson football players came from behind the Jervey Athletic Center and made their way toward the practice fields for the first practice of 2005. And when all 105 players finally arrived, there were quite the surprises.

"The biggest thing I noticed today was just the competition," Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said. "It's probably the most competitive it's been this time of year. Usually we have more jobs kind of nailed down by now. There will be some movement. I'd say a whole lot here in the next 28 practices."

Even though he knew 19 of the 21 freshmen were on campus for the second session of summer school and participated in "skills and drills," Bowden was still taken somewhat aback at how ready a lot of the newcomers were on this first day.

"That six weeks that they were in here, I think it just kind of elevated their comfort zone, where they could go out there and feel a little more at ease and let their athleticism be displayed sooner than normal," Bowden said. "I think that's the thing that jumped out more than anything."

And even though Bowden would prefer to redshirt as many freshmen as possible, he won't hesitate to play several right away or even start them if it's going to help the team.

"It's like the NFL, there are a lot of veterans that started last year and played, but they're fixin' to be beat out by first-round draft picks," he said. "The objective is not to put the oldest guy on the field, not to put the most experienced guy on the field, but to put the best player on the field. And you hope nobody gets their feelings hurt, but that is the objective."

Bowden cited freshmen wide receivers Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham, as well as linebacker Antonio Clay, defensive back Sadat Chambers and redshirt freshman wide receiver Aaron Kelly as the young ones that really stood out in practice. He also added that tailback James Davis showed flashes of brilliance.

"I think we've elevated recruiting, and unfortunately some these guys have to play early," he said. "From the first day, I think this is going to be the most competition since I've been here. And the surprising thing is it's across the board at all positions practically. I'd be surprised if there's not a lot of movement from day-to-day and week-to-week at several positions." Top Stories