Harper Debates Options

CLEMSON - Well everyone was right. There was something wrong with quarterback Cullen Harper's shoulder. Just not the one he throws with.

The senior told the media following Thursday's practice that an MRI done on his left shoulder earlier this week revealed he had broken his humerus bone in his left shoulder, which has since left pieces of bone fragments inside the shoulder.

Two different doctors have advised the Clemson quarterback to have surgery as soon as he can.

"Not exactly sure when (I will have it)," said Harper, who apparently injured the shoulder when he took a first quarter hit when scrambling that caused him to fumble the ball. "The doctors say I need to get it.

"Obviously I want to put if off as long as possible and try to be here for the team so that is the plan."

Harper, however, did indicate he could have the surgery as early as next week. The Tigers (3-3, 1-2 ACC) have next week off after hosting Georgia Tech on Saturday.

"We have a bye week coming up so that probably would not be a bad time to do it," he said.

Harper and interim head coach Dabo Swinney have already sat down and discussed what Harper might do. He says they will probably talk a few more times before a decision is made.

"I want to do what is best for Cullen," Swinney said. "What is best for the team is for Cullen Harper to be here. That's what is best for this football team because he is a good player and we need Cullen Harper and we need Willy Korn."

Harper says the pain is very manageable right now and is nothing what it was like when he first injured it. He says it now just hurts in certain positions. As for if it diminished his play any, the ACC's preseason choice for Player of the Year honors did not admit it played too much of a role.

"I guess more so running the football (is where it hurt)," he said. "When you have a fractured shoulder, you don't really want to lower the shoulder and try to run people over.

"I don't know how much it has affected me. It is always in the back of your mind. It is something I tried to play through to the best of my ability."

As for his throwing shoulder, Harper says he plans to have an MRI sometime, but he did not elaborate on when. He said he did hurt it against Alabama in the season opener, but he doesn't feel it is affecting his play too much.

Some people might disagree. Though he has completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,121 yards, he has struggled to get the ball down field, which in turn has caused the Clemson offense to struggle. Before stepping down as head coach Monday, Bowden demoted Harper to second string and announced redshirt freshman Willy Korn as the starter.

The next day, Bowden stepped down, but Swinney stood behind Bowden's decision and will go with Korn Saturday against a good Georgia Tech defense.

Since then Harper has been getting rave reviews from the coaching staff. Swinney said Thursday that he looked liked John Elway in practice this week.

"I'm just trying to go out there and play to the best of my ability," Harper said. "I'm going to go out there every day with the intent that I'm playing as the starter. Just because I'm the backup right now doesn't mean that I'm going to prepare any less."

If Harper does have surgery, Clemson will likely move Michael Wade to second team and have true freshman Kyle Parker available in case he is needed.

"All options are on the table," Swinney said. "We have (six) games to go win. All options are on the table and Kyle Parker is certainly one of them. Hopefully, Cullen will not have to have surgery until the end of the season, but if he does have to it then we will have Kyle ready."

. Former Clemson linebacker, and college football Hall of Famer, Jeff Davis has been named director of player relations for the football team. He was appointed to this position by Swinney, who wanted the former All-American and captain of the 1981 National Championship team to be more a part of the team.

Injuries. Left guard Cory Lambert practiced in an orange jersey Thursday and is now listed as questionable for Saturday's game. Running back C.J. Spiller, as expected, will not play thanks to a hamstring tear in his left leg. Guard David Smith is also out with a sprained ankle. He says he expects to be back for the Boston College game.

Fellow guard Mason Cloy (knee) is listed as probable as is wide receiver Tyler Grisham (ankle) and Harper. Guard Barry Humphries (knee) is listed as questionable.

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