5 Questions for Spring Practice: No. 1

Every year it happens. And every year it happens from someone unexpected.

5) Which newcomers will make an impact?
Each year there are a handful of freshmen or red-shirt freshmen that make an immediate impact during spring practice. Trying to figure out who those will be each year isn't easy, but these are the likely candidates:

Wide receiver Jacoby Ford enrolled in January and while he is slight in stature (5-foot-9, 175 pounds), the one sure thing is his speed, which is unquestioned. Several college coaches have clocked Ford in the 40-yard dash in 4.2 seconds or less. Expect to see him returning kicks and punts right away.

"I would say he would have a chance to play based on what he did at receiver as well," said Clemson running backs coach Burton Burns, who recruited Ford to Clemson. "We know he can return kickoffs and punts, but we think based on what he did last year at Fork Union that he could be a good receiver as well."

Said Clemson recruiting coordinator David Blackwell, "Jacoby Ford is the fastest human being I've ever timed in my life."

Tight end Durrell Barry red-shirted last season, but he is expected to see plenty of playing time due to the graduation of tight ends Bobby Williamson and Cole Downer.

Coming out of Fork Union Military Academy, Barry was rated as the 33rd-best tight end in the country. He's big (6-5, 240) and extremely athletic, which should fit in perfectly to Rob Spence's offense.

In 2005, tight ends caught 28 passes, which was the most by the position at Clemson since 1984. With Barry and Thomas Hunter returning this year, those numbers will likely go up.

Offensive tackle Cory Lambert red-shirted last season after being one named as one of the top 100 high school players in the country in 2004. The only thing the Tigers lack on the offensive line is depth, especially at tackle, which he should be able to provide immediately.

In addition, redshirt freshmen Thomas Austin and Barry Humphries are interior linemen that have also impressed, as has Jamarcus Grant.

In the secondary, keep an eye on Ray Ray McElrathbey, who is one of the top athletes on the team that has yet to see the field, and JUCO transfer Chris Russell.

McElrathbey should be in position to challenge Sergio Gilliam as a reserve cornerback and Russell should be the answer the Tigers are looking for at free safety by the end of spring ball.

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