Decision Time for Billie

CLEMSON – One week from today, Clemson linebacker Tremaine Billie will decide whether he's going to redshirt this season or if he's going to use his final year of eligibility by playing in a handful of games.

Billie, a senior who has his redshirt option still available, broke his ankle on Aug. 17. He had the pin that was surgically implanted in his ankle removed Monday.

Billie went to practice Tuesday for the first time without sporting a walking cast and tried to do some light jogging.

"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "It's still a little tight right now after having been in that same position from two months."

Many just assumed when the injury occurred that Billie wouldn't play this year and that he'd come back fully healthy next season and be a key part in making Clemson one of the nastiest defenses in the nation.

Billie started all 12 games last season at Sam linebacker and made 93 tackles, 50 of which were solo. He also had one sack, two pass breakups and fumble recovery.

The problem is that Billie wants to play this year, despite the fact that head coach Tommy Bowden, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and his position coach, Ron West, all want him to redshirt.

Unfortunately for the coaching staff, Billie has pretty much kept to himself and not solicited the advice from them. He's doing everything on his own.

"I'm just going to wait and see how this week goes and next week goes," Billie said. "I want to see how I react and how my body does. Then I'll make my decision."

There is one major factor that will help Billie determine whether or not he will play the rest of the season or sit.

"Really, I just want to be 100 percent," he said. "I don't want to be out there and be just 85 to 90 percent and not make the plays that I know I can make at 100 percent. My main thing is just try to be 100 percent, if not 100 percent, then real close to it."

The reason Billie has listed the Georgia Tech game as the drop-dead time is because he wants to have possibly as many as seven games to show the NFL scouts what he's capable of doing.

He doesn't think six games is enough time.

Making the decision even tougher for Billie is the gnawing desire deep inside of him to get back on the field, even though he would likely need another year to earn his degree.

"It's so hard not playing," he said. "Football's been in my life since I was little. I ain't never missed a game and I ain't never missed a practice. I've always been there. Me sitting out is something that I've never had to do. It's been hard. I just really want to get out there more than anything.

"I didn't even know if I was going to make it the first two or three weeks. Sometimes I thought about leaving. It's just been a lot of pressure on me. I've never had this type of serious injury."

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