The Next Nathan Bennett?

CLEMSON - When he sat back in his office chair inside the McFadden building and started describing Clemson redshirt freshman guard Wilson Norris, offensive line coach Brad Scott began describing the attributes of former Tiger Nathan Bennett.

Wilson Norris Profile

"He plays with an edge," Scott said. "He's aggressive, strong and has a lot of power."

Bennett played with an aggressive edge that some times put fear in the eyes of defensive tackles and linebackers. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound All-ACC guard also played with an edge off the field and was known for his short fuse and even bigger temper.

"Nathan Bennett, he'll fight you if you just breathe wrong or look at him wrong," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden once joked to the media when describing his fiery guard. "He's from Dallas, Ga., which is north Georgia, and obviously they legalized fighting on the weekends up there for 48 hours. That's what he's done for 16 or 17 years."

And that's where the comparisons end for Norris.

"Well, they are both good ole country boys, but Wilson isn't as aggressive or as talkative as Nathan was off the field," Scott said. "But on the field, I can see the similarities."

Like Bennett, Norris (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) is known to use his large size and strength to compensate for his lack of technique, especially when it comes to pass blocking.


CUTigers outlook: Guard is where Clemson appears to have its most depth on the offensive line so don't look for Norris to be in the regular two-deep rotation this year unless someone like Bobby Hutchinson is moved to center or a player like David Smith has to move back to tackle because of injuries.

Norris still has a lot of improvement to do with both his technique and footwork, especially as a pass blocker and could use another year of practice with some playing time to improve those things.
Rated as a three-star prospect and the No. 71 offensive guard in the nation according to Scout.com, Norris was an All-Western AAA selection at nearby Pickens High School. The former Blue Fame was a Shrine Bowl selection and played in the Max Emfinger All-American Bowl after totaling more than 100 knockdown blocks during his junior and senior seasons.

"What has impressed me the most about Wilson is his ability to work hard and the effort he has made to lose weight and to build strength," Scott said.

Since coming to campus weighing 330 pounds last August, the guard has lost more than 30 pounds and is weighing just around 300 as spring practice draws near.

"He's in the best shape of his life," Scott said. "I'm excited about seeing him practice this spring."

Scott did not get too see much of Norris last fall because the Pickens native missed a good part of the tutelage while still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered when he was still in high school.

However, Scott likes Norris' raw power, strength and work ethic.

"He brings a lot of intensity, and he loves to hit," Scott said. "He can be very explosive at times."

But Norris, who chose Clemson over Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, and South Carolina, needs to improve his techniques and needs to be more consistent in squaring up and hitting defensive tackles. And though the former track star is very athletic, especially for a 300-pound guard, he still needs to work on his foot movement.

"He is a little inexperienced, but I like Wilson," Scott said. "He is another one that I think has a lot of potential and will help this football team at some point in time."


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