He's Baaaack!

CLEMSON - That sound you're hearing in the upstate isn't Wyle E. Coyote chasing the road runner, it's the lightning-fast Jacoby Ford scampering around again at football practice.

CUTigers Interview: (3:26)

Ask anybody on the team and they'll tell you: Clemson's offense wasn't the same when Jacoby Ford went down with a broken ankle last season at Maryland.

While not the biggest receiver in the ACC, his speed is unparalleled and with him, C.J. Spiller, James Davis and Aaron Kelly on the field at the same time, Clemson arguably has the most explosive group of skill players in the country.

A weapon as a receiver and also on the ground, Ford provides Clemson's offense with an extra punch, but even without the ball in his hands, he is a player that must be accounted for at all times by opposing defenses.

It's his ability to score any time he touches the football that makes him such an impact player.

"He's one of the fastest players in all of college football," Tommy Bowden said last year after his injury.

CUTigers.com caught up with junior wide out Monday night, just hours after he hurt his other ankle to get the latest on his health and his thoughts on the upcoming season:

Talk first about your ankle that you hurt last year at Maryland. Is it back to 100 percent? And after today's injury to your other ankle, what's your status for practice the rest of the week.
Ford: Before my injury today, I was close to 100 percent. But I've been coming back pretty well. I could practice tomorrow if I need to [despite Monday's injury], and I probably will. It was a long road back through the rehab process so I'm just blessed to be back right now. It's been good.

Jacoby Ford missed five games last year with a broken ankle, but still managed to catch 17 pases for 310 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 14 rushes for another 172 yards and added another 300 yards returning kicks.
From a confidence standpoint, do you feel like you need to be able to take a big hit so you know everything is fine with that ankle again, just to prove to yourself mentally you are back where you were before the injury?
Ford: The key is to just get back out there and play and a good part of that comes in practice. It starts there. You can get your confidence up in practice and that will then translate to the game. I mean, we are going against the best defense in the conference every day. Those guys are fast so I've gotten used to it again. At first there was an adjustment but now it's back to normal.

You know the expectations on this team and you know all the pundits are talking about Clemson's offensive line. What have you seen from this young group so far?
Ford: We have a young line, so there are going to be people that are going to doubt them. But from what I've seen they are getting better and better. Coach Scott is working hard with them and we are all encouraging them. But by the time Aug. 30 comes around, they'll be ready.

I remember you on all of those end-around plays when you were healthy. Remind me what you bring back to the table for this offense?
Ford: Definitely going to bring that back. Also want more receiving yards and get that up more. I'm not stingy because I know I'm going to get the ball in different ways, like on special teams. That's a big part of what I do so it's going to be a combination of all of those things.

Opening up with Alabama in the Georgia Dome, is that a motivating force for you as you get ready to enter the grind of preseason camp?
Ford: Oh yeah it definitely motivates me because sitting in the dome last year watching them play Auburn, I remember saying, 'I really want to play in this game.' Next thing you know, we are opening up in the Georgia Dome so I guess it was meant for me to play in the dome. It's going to be great to see coach Burns again and to go against him. Even though he's coaching for Alabama now. It's going to be a lot of fun. Both teams are going to come hyped up. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch.

The selflessness of having so many big playmakers ... you and C.J. and James and Aaron Kelly ... are all sharing one ball. How do you guys do it?
Ford: At receiver, you can't be selfish. Like Coach Swinney says, run your route like you are the only man on the field but expect the ball every time. You pretty much never know when it's going to come your way but that puts pressure on defenses with us having so many weapons and we like that.

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