#5. STANLEY HUNTER AT MIKE: The defensive staff has elected to do some serious experimenting with their linebackers, including taking freshman Stanley "Buster" Hunter from the WILL and moving him part-time to the MIKE, behind starter Brandon Maye. Hunter, who will remind fans of former Clemson linebacker Keith Adams because of his size, has looked like Adams at times during the first week of camp due to his playmaking ability. Sure, he's made some mistakes along the way, but he's also turned a lot heads during practice. "He makes the kind of plays that stay with you, that you remember, when you leave the practice fields," Clemson linebackers coach David Blackwell told CUTigers.com.
#4. FRESHMEN LIVING UP TO THE HYPE: It shouldn't be so surprising to learn that Clemson's recruiting class is living up to the hype so far, but when Tommy Bowden suggested as many as 11 first-year players could see the field this year Thursday- it raised a few eye brows. Even some of the offensive linemen have routinely drawn praise from Tommy Bowden and offensive line coach Brad Scott for their early play. Right now, Jamie Harper, Andre Ellington, Spencer Adams, Antoine McClain, Da'Quan Bowers and Stanley Hunter are all locks to see the field while at least five other players are also competing for playing time as first-year players. Even players like Daniel Andrews and Carlton Lewis are making a little noise at the SAM linebacker spot.
#3. FIESTY TRENCHMEN: There's a certain aspect to this year's team that seems to be a little more physical than previous years, and it starts in the trenches. Unlike some schools that seem to frown upon harmless altercations during practice, the Tigers have gotten after each other seemingly every day during preseason camp. Whether it's Miguel Chavis getting aggravated at some of the redshirt freshmen or Kenneth Page getting under the skin of pretty much everybody, there seems to be an edge in this season's preseason camp. "We've had some fights but we are bunch of 20 and 21 year old guys out there, that's what you expect when it's hot," junior center Thomas Austin said. "The competition level has been great and guys are really playing hard." Call me crazy, but isn't that something this team really needs more of this year?
#2. DAVID SMITH'S TOE: Smith dislocated his big toe almost four weeks ago during offseason workouts, which has been known for quite some time ... we just didn't know it would have this big of an impact through the first week of camp. Smith has been held out of live snaps virtually all week and is only now getting back close to full strength. Smith told CUTigers.com Wednesday evening he expected to be close to 100 percent by Monday and that's good news because Brad Scott wants him back in the lineup as soon as possible. Each day lost is another blow to Clemson's already much-maligned offensive line.
#1. CORY LAMBERT EMERGING: By all accounts, redshirt junior Cory Lambert has locked down his starting spot at right tackle and even shown some vocal leadership along the way. "He's stronger and more confident. He had a good summer and a good offseason but his pass protection is better," said offensive line coach Brad Scott. "His stabs are a little bit better and he realizes it's his turn. The thing I've been most impressed with was yesterday, it wasn't the best practice (as we told you) and I got after 'em a little bit but it was Cory who called him up. Tonight Cory was the guy that called him up. Cory's the guy that started practice talking to 'em [the rest of the line]. He's showing a little leadership, and I haven't seen that out of him at all before. That comes with the fact that it's 'my time' and when you are a little more confident I think you can do that." If this preseason hype can translate over to the season opener against Alabama and beyond, the Tigers have found their two starting tackles for the entire year in Lambert and Chris Hairston.
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