NOTEBOOK: Hamlin Weighing Options

CLEMSON – James Davis said Monday that if every eligible player returns to Clemson for the 2008 season that the Tigers would be one of the favorites to win the national championship. The only players other than Davis that could leave would be Michael Hamlin and Phillip Merling.

Hamlin, a safety, said the NFL is never far from his thoughts and that he often wonders whether he will return for his senior season or turn pro.

"I think about (whether or not to stay) a lot," he said. "I know that I'm supposed to be focusing in on my career now, but I think about it a lot. At the end of the season, I'm going to turn my name in (to the NFL) and see where they have me (projected)."

Most players say that if they are predicted to go in the first round and receive that guaranteed money that they will go. For Hamlin, a second or third round projection might be enough to make him forgo his senior season.

"I always said the first round," he said. "Then teammates say that if they could go in the second round that they would go. At first I was thinking just the first round, but after hearing them say that, it's just something that feeds your mind and something you think about."

From about the middle of the season, Hamlin has paid close attention to where those so-called draft experts and NFL scouts have him ranked at his position. But he's not the only one. Family members often keep him abreast of where he's listed.

As far as Merling, a defensive end, is concerned, he said he is definitely returning for his senior season, regardless of what Hamlin does.

"I have a daughter and I want to get my degree," he said. "I'm on schedule to graduate next year and I can't tell my daughter that I want her to get her degree if I don't have one. Besides, I can probably make a lot more money if I stay and improve my stock."

When asked what he think Hamlin will do, Merling said he thinks and hopes Hamlin will stay, but then offered a qualifier.

"He thinks about (the pros) and talks about it a lot more than I do," he said. "I don't really give it much thought. I'm going to turn my paperwork in to see where they have me projected, but I really don't think about it."

KORN PLAYS RYAN: Bowden said during his press conference early Tuesday that Willy Korn was going to be the quarterback of the scout team to get the defense a better person to practice against in preparation of facing Boston College star quarterback Matt Ryan.

QUICK HITS: Bandit Ricky Sapp is listed as questionable for Saturday's game due to a pulled hamstring. He wore a yellow jersey in practice. … Offensive guard Chris McDuffie is listed as questionable, but he's probably not going to play due to a torn ligament in his left elbow. … Tight end Michael Palmer and special teams player Scottie Cooper each wore green jerseys, an upgrade from the yellow they wore Monday. Palmer is probable, while Cooper is questionable. …

Bowden that the reason Jock McKissic didn't play against Wake Forest was because Jamie Cumbie had been moved inside and that when the game was out of hand, he wanted the young players to get playing time. When asked if McKissic had been relegated to the bench disciplinary reasons, Bowden laughed.

"I've never had one sheet (of paperwork listing problems) in study hall or anything like that," Bowden said. "Tramaine Billie and Nick Watkins, they got them (three inches high). They've got volume. I don't a single sheet on him. He'd be like Gaines Adams in that regard."

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