Way Too Early Freshmen Report Card

CLEMSON - While it's still very early, there a handful of freshmen, including a few surprises, that have caught the eye of the coaching staff.

Here's what we've seen and heard from a handful of Clemson's first-year players through the first five practices of preseason camp:

DE Da'Quan Bowers - B: Bowers was routinely praised during spring practice but he reported to camp slightly overweight. That's fine, after all, how different ways can you praise the guy who is arguably the top football recruit ever signed by Clemson. Don't worry, he's going to play. A lot.

LB Daniel Andrews - B+: Andrews has been singled out twice by Tommy Bowden, including after Tuesday's first practice in full pads during which he had the biggest collision of the day. Interestingly enough, he's been playing more as a SAM linebacker than a strong safety.

S Spencer Adams - A: Adams was called by Bowden as the fastest safety on the team. "It's not even close," he said earlier this week. While not the biggest safety in the history of college football at 180 pounds, he's fearless and has the kind of recovery speed to make up for freshmen mistakes- or mistakes by his teammates for that matter. Wow.

S Rashard Hall - B: Like Adams, Hall is battling for one of those second team safety spots and appears to be the more physically ready of the two to play. While not as fast as Adams, he's certainly in the mix.

OG Matt Sanders - B: While likely still bound for a redshirt season, Sanders has plenty of "bite" according to offensive line coach Brad Scott and he was also singled out by Tommy Bowden earlier this week. Sanders and fellow freshman Dalton Freeman are working at second-team guard since David Smith is hurt. Don't forget, Sanders was actually ranked the No. 16 guard in the country by Scout.com. Not bad.

OL Antoine McClain - A: McClain has been everything we expected him to be entering preseason camp. He's big, he's athletic, and he's mean. If you haven't figured it out by now, he's a different kind of lineman who will see significant playing time early in his career. Right now he's the second-team right tackle behind starter Cory Lambert.

Scout.com's No. 9 offensive tackle in the nation for the class of 2008 is currently the second-team right tackle behind redshirt junior Cory Lambert.
RB Jamie Harper - A: This is all you need to know about the 230 pound Jamie Harper: when he hits the pile, the pile moves backwards. Finally the Tigers have the big back they've been looking for the last few seasons. Even at his size, he's also shown a good burst through the line and has drawn the praise of James Davis and C.J. Spiller as well.

RB Andre Ellington - B+: Ellington will play this year and arrived at camp in outstanding physical condition. It's amazing to think Clemson has four legitimate weapons in the backfield this year.

P Dawson Zimmerman - B: He's shown enough pop in his punts to provide Jimmy Maners legitimate competition. The key the staff will be looking for is height. Bowden wants more height on Clemson's punts this season to create more fair catches.

DT Brandon Thompson - A-: The human bowling ball has looked quick in drills and has been singled out by Bowden twice in five practices. Don't rule out the possibility of Thompson playing this season.

LB Stanley Hunter - A-: The kid makes plays, even when he's out of position. He's also cross trained at the MIKE linebacker spot but expect the majority of his playing this year to be at the WILL. Could we be looking at the next Keith Adams?

LS Matt Skinner - B: Skinner will be looking to take over the starting long snapper spot and has looked pretty good so far. Going against a live rush the next couple of days in practice will reveal if he's ready to play.

WR Jaron Brown - B: Brown made a couple of plays in practice earlier this week, as noted by Bowden in his post-practice meetings with the media. Given Clemson's depth at wide out, he'll still likely redshirt but it seems safe to say Brown was one of the more underrated prospects in Clemson's 2008 class.

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