Making the Grade

There was great concern heading into exams that when they were over, several players on the Clemson football team wouldn't be academically eligible for the Music City Bowl. Now that they are over, the Tigers have emerged relatively unscathed.

It appears each football player, with the exception of maybe one, passed their exams and is in good academic standing and will play in the Dec. 29th bowl game against Kentucky.

"Vickery Hall is a really good support system and all I try to do is support them in graduation," Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said. "We do talk about it a whole bunch and it is talked about on this field a whole bunch. It's important to their family and it should be important to the commitment they have made to their moms and dads or whoever raised them. We make it a high priority.

"We have a great support system in place, but I think we both support each other."

Not only that, but 10 players will graduate Thursday, including defensive end Gaines Adams, cornerback Duane Coleman, offensive linemen Roman Fry and Dustin Fry, tight end Thomas Hunter, linebacker Anthony Waters, quarterback Will Proctor and running back Reggie Merriweather.

"They all come from so many different backgrounds and that's the amazing things to see," Bowden said. "The guy I like to bring up is Duane Coleman, because the first meeting I had with him and the seniors you know when I talk to all players one-on-one, that was not on the radar screen. I don't think it was for him or really anyone in his family, but now I think his mom is driving up.

"Here is a guy like that, who is graduating in four and half years, to me, is a pretty good story. Neither one of us anticipated him graduating. I was hoping and we had a plan for him and we surely weren't going to discourage him, but that would be one that if you were betting four and half years ago that he is one we all would have bet against probably."

However, as much as Bowden enjoys seeing his players do well in the classroom and knows that it casts the university in a positive light, he thinks those in charge can sometimes be hypocritical.

"It's important," Bowden said. "But as I have mentioned this year with someone, they fired 20 (coaches) and graduation rate wasn't mentioned not one time. With that being said, it is important to me, but it is a non-factor on retaining coaches."

Taylor sore
Wide receiver Rendrick Taylor, who participated in a full practice Tuesday for the first time since breaking his arm in October, was sore in practice on Wednesday.

"He has done good," Bowden said. "We did not hit much today, but we surely bounced around and did some catching and stuff like that.

"He was sore. I talked to him a little bit this morning and he said he was a little sore, but nothing that would hold him out. He is a pretty tough guy."

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