Walker Ready for Spotlight

CLEMSON - After enrolling in school more than 18 months ago, redshirt freshman Landon Walker is now in position to become the impact player many thought he could be at the high school level.

While it may sound good when you read it, the fact is the Tigers are having to revamp their offensive line after injuries to two starters- including left tackle Chris Hairston and right guard Barry Humphries.

Hairston is not expected to play Saturday after a moped accident last weekend and Humphries is out after suffering a knee injury in week one against Alabama. That means as many as three freshmen could get the start Saturday against the Wolfpack, including Walker, a former four-star prospect from North Carolina.

Also starting will be David Smith and Mason Cloy at the left and right guard positions, respectively.

"It's going to be an exciting experience. I almost committed to N.C. State in the recruiting process so I'd obviously like to have a good game," Walker told CUTigers.com. "I'm grateful for the opportunity from the coaching staff and hopefully I can get out there and build off what I did last weekend."

The redshirt freshman didn't get in the game in Clemson's season opening loss against Alabama, but he did last week against The Citadel- and by all accounts, he played well.

"I feel like for the first game, I came out there and did pretty well," he said of his 23 snaps. "I'm not complacent. But you aren't going to be satisfied until you grade out at 99 percent and you get 15 cut blocks. I know Mason [Cloy] last week had 10.5 cut blocks in only 40 snaps- and that's impressive. It's all about improving from week to week and that's what all of us are focused on right now."

Clemson offensive line coach Brad Scott agreed.

"I think Landon went in the first quarter, third series. He did well. He's been playing better and better," Scott said.

This week, Walker is moving over to right tackle as the Tigers look to a more experienced Cory Lambert on the left side in the absence of Hairston. And even though he won't be in charge of protecting QB Cullen Harper's blind side, he's still very much aware of N.C. State's talent on the defensive line.

The Wolfpack lead the ACC in sacks with eight through the first two games, including five against South Carolina in their season opener.

"I've been studying them all week," he said. "Willie Young- he's going to come off the ball and he's going to hit you. He's a Ricky Sapp kind of player. I've played against Ricky Sapp in camp and in spring and I'm used to that kind of play so I feel like I'll be okay.

"It's going to be a test for the offensive line but it's going to be fun. It's also a great opportunity for this offensive line to show the ACC and to show the world how physical we can actually be."

Physicality has been at a premium since Clemson's opening loss to Alabama. Last week the Tigers fared better against FCS power The Citadel, but obviously the overall talent of N.C. State will be much higher this weekend- especially at the line of scrimmage.

"We feel like we took a small step in the right direction last week," Walker said. "But we've got a long ways to go. By no means have we arrived and we know we have a stiff challenge this week going against N.C. State. Those guys will hit you, but we'll be ready."

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