NOTEBOOK: Clear Steps Up

ATLANTA – It's been an odd, but good week for Clemson freshman Brandon Clear. First, he's playing a very prominent role in the preparation for Auburn, and secondly, he got some good news concerning his father.

During practice Thursday, Clear, a tall receiver that is redshirting this season, played the role on the scout team of Auburn backup quarterback Kodi Burns, who Clemson believes it's going to see plenty of because of the new spread-option offense being installed under new Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.

Franklin's offense is very similar to that of West Virginia's and Burns is more of a running threat, while starter Brandon Cox is more of the traditional passer.

Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning wants to make sure his players are ready for both styles of offense, which is why Clear, who is very athletic, has been moved to quarterback on the scout team.

"I play receiver, but I'll do anything to help the team get ready," Clear said. "Sometimes you've got to make sacrifices and I'm just trying to make the guys better on defense and get them prepared."

Clear did a lot of keepers, draws and pitches, but he also did the occasional pass. It was evident by watching some his throws that he's more adept at catching than throwing.

"They got there, but I'm not a quarterback in any way," he said of his very wabbley throws. "The quarterback they have going, he's more of a runner so that's what they have me doing. But when they have me throw it, I try to throw it the best way I can."

Even in the very short time that he's been the scout team's quarterback, Clear has developed a new respect for the real signal callers.

"Having a quarterback mindset is completely different," he said. "You've got to watch everything that's going on, you've got to know the whole and what's going on instead of like receiver, where you just need to know your routes and how to get open and how to work the cornerback."

If playing one of the more important, yet unsung, parts in practice was big enough for the freshman, he learned that his father, Colonel Samuel Clear, a 24-year military veteran and Army Ranger stationed in Kuwait, is coming home.

"He's coming back on the 29th, so he's going to be here for the bowl game, so that will be good," said Clear, who has a twin brother Byron, a redshirting defensive end for Clemson. "We're going to get to hang out with him. He's going to get to stay for 10 days.

"We get to talk to him everyday. Everyday he calls us up and sometimes it's late at night and sometimes it's early in the morning, but we always talk to my dad. He wants to make sure we're doing all right. We haven't seen him in about six months, so it's going to be good seeing him."

GRIZZLY ADAMS: Some of the Clemson players have kept alive a tradition that apparently dates back quite a few years with the Tigers.

Quarterback Cullen Harper, center Thomas Austin, guard Barry Humphries, receiver Nelson Faerber and a handful of others have decided to grow a full beard while preparing for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

"It's just a little thing that some of us do," Harper said. "It's called the bowl beard. Guys have done it ever since I got here. Some guys do it, some guys don't."

Harper kind of likes his new, gruff look, but he said he's not messing with his hair.

"I might shave it, I might keep it. I don't know. We'll see," he said. "No Mohawks."

QUICK HITS: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said practice went well, but wasn't as sharp as Wednesday's. He said it was due to the fact that curfew is at 1 a.m. and that players were out spending their money and having a good time late. … He said no one missed curfew, but wouldn't say if someone actually had. …

Thursday's practice marked the last day this season that that team will run sprints and conditioning drills. "You can tell they're getting a little bit tired," Bowden said. … The team is in good health with no injuries, Bowden said. …

Bowden said there's no new information on Tennessee and offensive coordinator Rob Spence, who bolted immediately after practice and left through an opposite exit from where the media had gathered. Bowden said he wants Spence to stay at Clemson. …

He also said there's no new information on the status of linebacker Cortney Vincent.

"I'm just thinking and I want to make sure I do the right thing," Bowden said. "It's like disciplining children. I just want to make sure I do the right thing."

It is believed that Vincent will play, though he may not start, because Bowden doesn't want to suspend him from the bowl game and then later found to be not guilty of his DUI charge. If he is found guilty, Vincent would then be suspended for the season opener in 2008. Top Stories