Maxwell's Return Will Depend on Himself

CLEMSON - It is said the freshman year of a young man's college career is the most difficult. He's adjusting to life away from home for the first time. There are plenty of girls to distract the academic side of things, and then there is his diet.

Let's face it, living off pizza and McDonalds for months at a time isn't exactly what one would call a good health plan.

Those experiences, however, pale in comparison to what Clemson cornerback Byron Maxwell as endured so far during his freshman campaign The Fort Dorchester High School (North Charleston, S.C.) product has had a difficult first year in Tigertown. After missing the majority of his redshirt season thanks to a torn ACL in his left knee he injured during his senior year of high school, Maxwell suffered the same fate in his right knee last week.

"That young man is going to have some stuff to overcome," Clemson defensive coordinator/defensive back coach Vic Koenning said. "As long as we can keep his attitude up and his spirits up, and academically we have to have him stay on a straight line because usual when something like this happens guys get down and that is usually the first thing that goes.

"We have to continue to try to motivate and love him up which I think we are doing."

Maxwell's status for the beginning of the 2007 season is unknown at this time. He was working out on his own at Clemson with some of his teammates when he suffered the injury.

"That's out of my hands obviously," Koenning said of Maxwell's pending return. "We will not know until he gets back. He wasn't fully recovered from his first knee before this happened.

"The concern was how well he rehabbed (the left knee). The opinion of our training staff is that he probably did not rehab that one as well as he should have."

So what does this mean for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound cornerback? History has dictated that it is rare for an athlete to recover from torn ACLs in both knees, but there are a few cases in which an athlete has done such and prospered. One such example is former Clemson running back Terry Allen, who suffered one knee injury as a junior at Clemson and then another during his third year in the NFL. He later went onto an All-Pro status, while piling up 10,215 all-purpose yards and 79 touchdowns during an 11-year career with Minnesota Vikings, the Washington Redskins, the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens.

"That remains to be seen with Byron," Koenning said. "That's way down the road and there are way too many factors to speculate right now."

If Maxwell can come back and compete, he will help a Clemson secondary that is depleted thanks to departures this off season. Corner C.J. Gaddis opted not to return for his senior year and entered the NFL Draft, while safety Roy Walker was declared academically ineligible for the spring and has since transferred.

Backup safety Brandon Croley has also left the team and corner Ray Ray McElrathbey was moved to running back prior to the Music City Bowl. In all, counting the graduation of Duane Coleman and Sergio Gilliam, the Tigers have to fill six vacancies in the secondary.

In high school, Maxwell had 60 tackles, 19 passes broken up and five interceptions as a junior. He was listed as the No.3 player in South Carolina by The State Newspaper his senior year and ranked as the No. 40 player in the entire nation by had him as an East Coast Hot 100 pick.

"Byron has great skills," Koenning said. "We really anticipate him being a guy that can really be a difference maker type player. He was one of the top corners in the country coming out of high school and towards the end of the year was a guy that showed up a lot in practice.

"I thought he was going to be a really, really good player there and I think he still will be. We just have to continue to boost his mental state again. But to speculate, that would be too much right now."

CUTigers outlook: Whether or not Maxwell can return to from his second torn ACL in two years will totally be up to him. But if he does return, look for him to be a physical type corner that isn't afraid to lay a blow. He has already showed to the Clemson coaches that he is the type of player who isn't afraid to deliver or take a hit. Top Stories