A Coming Out Party?

CLEMSON - While it's true freshman running Jamie Harper hasn't made that big of an impact through the first six games of Clemson career, there stands a good chance that will all change Saturday against Georgia Tech.

Remember all the talk during preseason camp?

Remember the one freshman who seemed to be turning everybody's head in all those closed scrimmages inside Death Valley?

Remember the talk from all the coaches and players?

Remember Jamie Harper?

After a 3-3 start to a season that started with such high expectations, chances are you probably don't remember too much, but if you remember anything from August, you probably remember the buzz that surrounded Clemson's prized freshman running back.

He was supposed to be Clemson's cure for its short-yardage woes. He was supposed to be a back that could offer the Tigers a jumbo back with surprising elusiveness and speed.

But for whatever reason, and certainly the guys named Thunder & Lightning have something to do with his, he simply hasn't gotten on the field ... hardly at all.

Even with all of the preseason hype, Harper told CUTigers.com he knew coming to Clemson it would take a while for him to make his mark.

"I really did," he said. "I knew C.J. and J.D. were going to get the majority of the snaps this year. Coming in I knew that. Getting any playing time this year would make me feel appreciated. I've been blessed with that so far.

"Even as a highly recruiting guy coming out of high school- having all that hype with recruiting really didn't mean much to me. When my time comes, it comes."

Through six games Harper, Scout.com's No. 5 running back in the nation in the 2008 recruiting class, certainly has the stats to back up what he's saying with just 15 carries for 75 yards a touchdown.

However, with C.J. Spiller out for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, Harper is about ready to get his chance.

And judging by the way everybody is talking at Clemson this week that may be an understatement.

"There's better than a chance, it's a certainty," Interim head coach Dabo Swinney said of his freshman back. "Unless he rolls his ankle walking off the bus or something he's going to play a lot.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him play. You've got two good backs like James and C.J. and he came in with high expectations as a highly-touted recruit. He had a great preseason camp. It's just sometimes it's hard because there is just one ball."

Harper said he's hopeful to see the field, in whatever capacity coach Swinney chooses to use him.

"With C.J. being all bruised up we are going to rest him up and try to get him well for Boston College," he said. "We all know he's a big contributor to the team so we need him back. But whether they play me one play or 30 plays I'm there for the team. I'm ready in whichever way they want to use me."

Regardless of what happens Saturday, Harper appears to be the Tigers' clear No. 2 option at running back and could very well get the opportunity to carry the ball 15 times or more.

And while Clemson's offense is somewhat of a wildcard right now with Swinney and new quarterbacks coach Billy Napier calling the plays, at minimum, Harper is going to be tested to see what he'll be able to provide the Tigers the rest of the season.

When asked if he felt like this could be his coming out party as a Clemson running back, he responded, "Oh yes sir. I'm here for the team and I'm going to help out anyway I can. It should be a lot of fun."

And it sounds like Swinney may be looking forward to his increased role in the offense as much as Harper, himself.

"We are going to cut him loose Saturday and see how he reacts to his first significant playing time instead of just ending games," Swinney said.

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