Ranking Clemson's Top 10 OL

When taking a look at the top 10 offensive linemen currently on campus, one thing becomes clear almost immediately- these guys are young.

RANKING CLEMSON'S OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
#1. Thomas Austin (6-3,315) - REDSHIRT JUNIOR

STRENGTHS- Size. Versatility. Power at the point of attack. Knowledge of the offense. Leadership.

NOTES - Austin averaged a knockdown block every 5.3 plays in 2006, best on the team among players who played at least 100 snaps. Last season he led the team in knockdown blocks with 90, including 12 in the win over South Carolina when he was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week. Austin is also CUTigers.com's No. 2 center in the ACC entering the 2008 season and is vastly underrated when talking about importance to the team.

#2. Chris Hairston (6-6,310) - REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE

STRENGTHS- Size. Athleticism. Comfort level with the offense.

WEAKNESSES - Starting experience.

NOTES - Made his first career start against Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and played well, grading out at 75 percent against a defensive front that featured several NFL draft prospects. Needs to be counted for pass protection for the coming season and has worked actively on that part of his game in the last year. Could play either right or left tackle.

#3. Antoine McClain (6-6,315) - FRESHMAN

STRENGTHS- Size. Power. Ability to finish blocks.

WEAKNESSES - Experience.

NOTES - Was rated the nation's No. 9 offensive tackle by Scout.com and was called by Tommy Bowden and the top lineman signed during his tenure in Clemson. For his size, he's surpisingly agile and also has a mean streak that will be needed up front.

#4. Barry Humphires (6-2,295) - REDSHIRT JUNIOR

STRENGTHS- Overall strength. Versatile.

WEAKNESSES - Consistency.

NOTES - Was the strongest player on the team in 2007 in terms of the bench press (470 pounds). Can play either guard or center but is better suited as a guard. Started seven of the 13 games last year, five at center and two at right guard, and finished second on the team in knockdown blocks with 87. Showed solid improvement last season after making the move to guard.

#5. Mason Cloy (6-3,300) - REDSHIRT FRESHMAN

STRENGTHS- Athletic. Versatile.

WEAKNESSES - Knowledge of the offense. Ability to make calls at the line.

NOTES - Could see time as a guard or center in 2008 but should gain more experience as a guard considering Austin has clearly become the team's top lineman. Fiery competitor who is hungry for playing time.

#6. David Smith (6-5,285) - REDSHIRT FRESHMAN

STRENGTHS- Lower body strength. Explosion.

WEAKNESSES - Pass blocking. Experience.

NOTES - Another redshirt freshman who needs to get his feet under him in game day situations. Should contend for a starting guard spot during preseason camp and will most certainly be on the two-deep depth chart for the season opener against Alabama.

#7. Wilson Norris (6-4,310) - REDSHIRT FRESHMAN

STRENGTHS- Aggressiveness. Intensity.

WEAKNESSES - Technique.

NOTES - Norris has worked as hard in the weight room as any player on the team in the last year and he should be rewarded with ample playing time in 2008 as a guard. Has lost about 20 pounds since arrive on campus last year over 330 pounds.

#8. Cory Lambert (6-6,310) - REDSHIRT JUNIOR

STRENGTHS- Size. Experience. Athleticism.

WEAKNESSES - Needs a mean streak.

NOTES - Lambert has played in 26 consecutive games over the last two years with one start. Has a nice upside, but needs to show more consistency and toughness to become the player many thought he would be coming out of Greenville High School four years ago.

#9. Landon Walker (6-5,285) - REDSHIRT FRESHMAN

STRENGTHS- Pass blocking. Athleticism.

WEAKNESSES - Experience.

NOTES - Will see time as a reserve tackle in 2008. Could play on either side of the line but needs to show a firm grasp of Clemson's complex protections schemes to warrant the kind of playing time he wants. A knee injury during preseason camp last year limited his development as a first-year player.

#10. Jamarcus Grant (6-4,305) - REDSHIRT JUNIOR

STRENGTHS - Size.

WEAKNESSES - Experience. Footwork.

NOTES - The 305-pound junior has seen limited action over the last two years ... played 18 plays against Central Michigan and graded 75 percent for his best game of 2007. Will compete for playing time at left guard.


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