The Next Anthony Waters?

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com checks in with redshirt freshman linebacker Brandon Maye on the eve of what promises to be a very big season.

"Hey man," Brandon Maye asks to the reporter across the table who is feverishly typing up the latest version of What We are Hearing... for CUTigers.com.

"Were you here covering Clemson when Anthony [Waters] was here?" he asks with a gleam in his eye. "What was he like?"

Truth be told, he wasn't all that much different than player asking me the question.

Like Waters, Maye arrived on campus as an undersized linebacker that really wasn't recruited by dozens of schools.

Like Waters, Maye redshirted his first year.

Also like Waters much later in his career, even if he's yet to take a snap in college, Maye seems to be a fiery competitor who sometimes needs to be kept under control before his emotions get the best of him.

"That's my boy," Maye says. "I talk to Anthony a good bit. The first time he called me, he said, 'who is this linebacker I keep hearing reminds everybody at Clemson of me?' I just laughed."

Truth be told, Maye probably won't be doing much laughing this season as he gears up for his first career game, and his first start Saturday night when the ninth-ranked Tigers take on No. 24 Alabama.

"I'm ready," Maye said. "Coach Blackwell has worked with me each and every day ... just working on learning the scheme and lining up in the right places and channeling my emotions which is basically getting up after the play and not celebrating and looking towards the sideline for the next play."

Maye, who will get the nod at the starting MIKE linebacker spot, has excellent speed but sometimes his inexperience has gotten the best of him during practice- dating all the way back to last year.

"Brandon Maye?" said linebackers coach David Blackwell. "He's a competitor. He likes to hit and he's aggressive, but the thing with him is you always have to make sure that joker has his emotions in check. He can get out of hand in a hurry."

Maye said his inability to control his emotions changed earlier this year when Blackwell explained it could hurt his ability to see the field.

"I learned how do it real fast ... Coach Blackwell has been throwing all of those plays at me so that has slowed me up a little bit and I've been more focused than at any other point in my career," he said.

And now, on the eve of making his first career start in his first career game, Maye is on the verge of living a dream of sorts.

While growing up in Mobile, Ala., he thought he may end up at Auburn, battling the Crimson Tide in the SEC West. But after both Auburn and Alabama passed him over in recruiting, Maye now gets the chance to show at least one of those schools, exactly what they missed out on.

"It's exciting to be able to open up against these guys," Maye said. "Obviously it's my home state and growing up an Auburn fan this is a big game for me. But I don't hate Alabama or anything like that and I went to some of their games when I lived there.

"It's nothing like that. It's either Auburn or Alabama when live in Alabama, but for me, it's truly a blessing from God for me to be able to play Saturday."

And Clemson fans are hoping it will truly be a blessing to watch him in action against Alabama, too.

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