Tigers Begin Spring Practice

CLEMSON - Clemson opened its spring practice season on Saturday with a three-hour practice on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center.

It was the first of 15 spring practices for the Tigers, a schedule that will conclude April 14 with the Spring Game at 1:00 PM at Clemson Memorial Stadium. The Tigers will practice Monday, Wednesday and Thursday next week before taking off for Spring Break.

"We had a good practice today, "said Bowden, who must replace many leaders off his 2006 team, including first-team All-American Gaines Adams (who attended the practice) All-ACC receiver Chansi Stuckey and quarterback Will Proctor (who attended the practice).

"The quarterbacks did well for the first practice. That is obviously an important position to evaluate this Spring. We don't have an experienced returning player at that position. Another priority will be developing leadership on defense. We might start only two seniors on defense this year."

Bowden also was pleased with the performance of the kickers on Saturday.

"Richard Jackson and Mark Buchholtz did not miss a kick today. That was a good sign. We are also working with new holders in Mike Wade and Jimmy Maners and they did a very good job also."

Buchholtz is also one of the top returning starters on Clemson's top 20 men's soccer team.

Bowden also announced some coaching staff titles and responsibility changes after practice. Tight ends coach Billy Napier will replace David Blackwell as the recruiting coordinator.

Clemson had three consecutive top 20 recruiting years under Blackwell, a first for the program since the 1980s. Bowden also said that Brad Scott would now have the title of Associate Head Coach, while Dabo Swinney will have increased responsibilities and has been elevated to Assistant Head Coach.

Michael Hamlin was the only scholarship player who missed practice due to injury. He suffered a foot injury in February that will keep him out of spring practice for at least the first four practices. Rendrick Taylor, who also had an ankle injury in February, participated in the practice full go.

Andrew Diomande, a letterman receiver last year, and Zach Green a tight end who lettered in 2004 and 2006, were not a practice and will not return next season. Diomande, who had three receptions last year, has decided to transfer to another school. Green will graduate from Clemson this summer and will not return to the program.

Reserve running back Ray Ray McElrathbey was not at practice on Saturday. McElrathbey has been suspended for the first four spring practices due to an academic related matter. He is expected to return to the team after spring break.

Defensive back Darius Gaither, who red-shirted last year, attended a funeral on Saturday and missed the practice. Jacoby Ford did not practice due to his participation in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Arkansas on Saturday.

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