Spring Recap: Quarterback

Will Proctor settled in nicely as the starting quarterback for the Clemson football team this spring. What changes will we see in Rob Spence's offense with Proctor as the starter? What about the second and third teams? We examine those questions and much more in this report.

First team: Will Proctor
Despite a three-interception performance in the Orange & White game Saturday, fifth-year senior Will Proctor has settled in nicely as the starting quarterback headed into the 2006 season.

In fact, throughout spring practice, he demonstrated the ability to move the offense with a variety of weapons at his disposal, while also protecting the football. Head coach Tommy Bowden confirmed as much shortly after the conclusion of last Saturday's game.

"You know Will is a fifth-year senior. He hasn't had a whole lot of distance to travel," said Bowden. "Last year he was the MVP of the spring game. His practice performance, Texas A&M performance and Duke performance have been pretty solid. ... It would be hard to draw any kind of conclusions on today."

Indeed, Proctor has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success this spring.

No, he may not be as tall as predecessor, Charlie Whitehurst. He may not have the arm strength of Whitehurst, but he does carry several skills which should prove to be very beneficial in Rob Spence's offensive system.

For starters, Proctor's mobility will be utilized throughout the upcoming season. This alone should benefit the offense in areas in which it struggled a year ago- for instance red zone efficiency.

As an example, imagine Clemson facing a 3rd-and-6 situation on an opponents' 16-yard line. Will Proctor rolls to his right only to find Chansi Stuckey covered on a quick-out and Aaron Kelly covered on a post-corner. What does he do? No problem, based off the movement of a linebacker or defensive end, he turns up field and scrambles seven yards for the first down. The drive continues and Clemson has three more cracks to either pick up another first down or put six points on the board.

And while we've seen Whitehurst do this in the past, with success, you'll see even more of it this year out of Proctor. He's a step quicker and much more capable of turning an ordinary play into a long run or a much-needed first down.

Off the field, Proctor will add a swagger that has already appeared to be well received by his teammates.

Don't forget- this is a guy that has been waiting for five years to be the starting quarterback at Clemson. That's a long time. He's going to be vocal with his teammates when they don't get the job done.

"It's something I've been preparing for," Proctor said of the past few seasons. "I went through it in high school. Anytime you play football at a big school like this you are definitely going to be in the limelight as a starting quarterback. It's definitely different (this year)."

And even though he doesn't have the game day experience you'd like to see in a starting quarterback, Proctor will at least have the benefit of opening up with Florida Atlantic as opposed to Texas A&M, Wake Forest or Georgia like Whitehurst. In addition, he'll also have nine of his top 10 offensive linemen returning, the leading receiver in the ACC in Chansi Stuckey returning, the rookie of the year in the ACC in James Davis returning, plus two of the most dynamic freshmen in the country in C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford.

He'll also have a successful spring practice as the starting quarterback at Clemson University under his belt.

"We've ended things with some momentum. We had a real productive spring on both sides of the ball," he said. "We have to keep that momentum going throughout the summer and keep working hard. We need to have everybody stay focused. Hopefully everybody is going to be around this summer and we can keep working on timing between quarterbacks and receivers and keep focused for Florida Atlantic."

Second team: Cullen Harper
Somewhat quietly, red-shirt sophomore Cullen Harper put together a strong spring while also establishing himself as the clear No. 2 quarterback on the team.

Does that mean he's ready to challenge Will Proctor for the starting position? No. However it does mean that should Proctor go down with a short-term injury, Harper should be able to come in and move the chains for a series or two.

And with more experience under his belt ... who knows. At bare minimum, Harper has established himself as the front-runner to take over the starting quarterback position for the 2007 season, after Proctor leaves. Of course, he'll also have to contend with incoming freshman QB Willy Korn, but that's a different story we'll save for a different day.

The good news is that Harper, like Proctor, is a mobile quarterback- which we've come to find is a must in a Rob Spence-coached offense. He also has good awareness in the pocket and has shown the ability to distribute the ball to all parts of the field on a variety of routes.

What he lacks is experience.

In his most impressive performance of spring practice, Harper completed 8-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in the Saturday scrimmage before the Orange & White game held in Death Valley.

Third team: Tribble Reese
With Proctor and Harper set on the first and second team respectively, Alabama native Tribble Reese rounds out the scholarship quarterbacks on the third team.

Reese improved his game this spring and put up strong numbers in the Saturday scrimmage before the Orange & White game. Overall, he finished the April 1 scrimmage completing 12-16 for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

"Tribble did good today," Bowden said afterwards. "He continues to have a good spring."

While immediate playing time is not in the future of Reese, barring injuries to both Proctor and Harper, he did receive a significant number of snaps this spring in the evaluation process and seems to have a solid grasp of the offense.

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