Clemson offensive line coach Brad Scott said every time he sees freshman Chris Hairston, there is one very distinctive feature about him that he notices.
"He's always smiling," Scott said.
And it's that smile and overall jovial attitude that Scott likes about his freshman tackle from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but at the same time it is also something that he knows Hairston uses to hold himself back.
"He is smart like Jamal (Medlin) is, but he doesn't apply himself as well as he should," Scott said. "That's something he has to work on and I think he is. When it comes to his school work, everything is fine and all, but he probably can do a little better.
"He is an extremely smart and intelligent young man, and when applies himself, he can do just about anything, but the key is getting him to apply himself all the time. I think it just comes too easy for Chris at times so he just likes to challenge himself."
Scott hopes playing offensive tackle at the college level will also come easy to the former Associated Press All-State player.
"We think he can be pretty good, but again, like Jamal, I didn't work with him last fall because he was on the scout team," Scott said. "He was a heck of a high school player though, and we think he can translate that into the college game, but I'm sure he has room to grow and we will see how much this spring."
Like many freshmen offensive linemen, Hairston, who was redshirted this past fall, has had to adjust to the speed of the game from a pass blocking point of view. It is doubtful he saw guys with the speed of Gaines Adams while he played tackle at Carver High School.
Scott hopes going against Adams and other speed rushers like Ricky Sapp during practice last year have helped.
"You probably can ask Vic (Koenning) and he can tell you more since he worked against the scout team, but going up against guys like Gaines and Ricky should have made them better and I'm interested to see this spring how much they have learned," Scott said.
Hairston is the first Clemson football player from the Winston-Salem area since Perry Tuttle came to Clemson in 1978. The Tigers can only hope they get the same kind of production.
Tuttle went on to All-American status for Clemson, while help guiding the Tigers to the 1981 National Championship.
Hairston was a Shrine Bowl selection his senior year at Carver High School where he earned all-region honors as a junior and senior, while also picking up Piedmont Triad All-Conference honors as well.
"I'll like to see him come in and learn what it is like to be an offensive lineman at this level," Scott said. "You do not want to really count on them helping you until they are generally redshirt sophomores, but you want them to come in and grow gradually and play a little bit here and there so it helps their confidence as well as gaining valuable experience.
"If you are starting freshmen on the offensive line, then things aren't generally going that well or you're just starting at a program. We have an established program now and we can afford the opportunity to bring offensive linemen along that fit our program and at the speed that they need to adjust to the college game."
CUTigers outlook: Hairston will get the opportunity to work with the second team at right tackle some this spring and Scott hopes he can eventually fill into a role there this fall. Hairston, 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, has the size and body type to be only a tackle, there is no chance of him moving to an inside position on the offensive line. The Clemson coaching staff said they will like to see Hairston stay around the 310-pound to 320-pound mark that he is currently at and maybe gain a little more strength.
Hairston Also In the Mix at Tackle
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