Recruiting: Breaking Down the Running Backs

Duane Coleman will finally make his entrance onto the gridiron next year for the Clemson Tigers. Today, we break down the top prospects at running back for the 2003 class, and also discuss the possibilities of who might start ahead of Yusef Kelly next season.

Running Back
Returning Players: Yusef Kelly, Tye Hill, Kyle Browning, Reggie Merriweather, Duane Coleman
Key Losses: Bernard Rambert
Projected # Signed in 2003: 1-2
Main Targets: Rodney Kinlaw, Tremaine Billie, Andre Callender, Thomas Flowers, Brandon Nolen

Tommy Bowden has gone on record this season by saying that he would like to sign one running back, and one fullback in this year's class. While fullback appears to be more of mystery at this point in time, don't be surprised to see two running backs signed, with the possibility of one moving over to defense.

The Tigers have an ample selection of running backs to choose from in the 2003 class, but the cream of the crop is clearly Rodney Kinlaw. Kinlaw provides the perfect combination of speed and elusiveness and he has consistently illustrated his ability to "take it to the house" throughout his high school career.

The senior running back out of Stratford High School in Goose Creek will likely choose between Clemson, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, and Penn State. The Tigers were the first offer and while no one is talking about it, Clemson currently has the slight edge over the Nittany Lions and the Hokies.

Tremaine Billie, along with Thomas Flowers, might make the transition to defense if they were to sign with Clemson in 2003. The coaching staff likes Billie's potential as a safety, while Flowers could be given a hard look at cornerback.

Billie, who is currently a Gamecock verbal commitment, has been on the fence ever since the Tigers' come-from-behind win over South Carolina in late November. While he won't go on record with the Tigers as his favorite, they are clearly the team to beat headed into mid-December.

Brad Scott has been in constant contact with the Dreher running back and he has made significant headway within the last two weeks.

Flowers has already had in-home visits with Clemson and Georgia and is set to visit Tiger Town on January 10th. He'll also visit Auburn, Virginia, and Florida.

Brandon Nolen is another speedster who favored the Tigers earlier in the fall. Nolen has set visits with Wisconsin (12/13), Clemson (1/10), Wake Forest (1/17) and Purdue on (1/24). Nolen is another one of several recruits on the list of defensive coordinator John Lovett.

Brandon has excellent cutting ability and he can also make people miss with his 10.7 speed in the 100-meters.

Lovett is also recruiting Andre Callender, another running back out of the Garden State. Callender is set with visits to Clemson, Boston College, and Wake Forest. Interestingly enough, Callender is the highest ranked running back out of the 5 backs set with visits to Clemson.

The senior rushed for 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games of action and is being recruited strictly as a running back.

With 5 running backs currently set to visit Clemson on January 10th, it looks like the Tigers will have their "pick of the litter" come Signing Day. In terms of players returning in the offensive backfield next season, you have to figure that one, if not two of the existing running backs on the roster could make the transition to defense.

Tye Hill or Kyle Browning appear to be the most likely candidates. Hill was a stand out performer as the "gunner" on the punt team this past season, and his pure speed could Clemson an added weapon on defense.

Browning only saw limited action in the North Carolina game, but he too may be looking at a position switch if he wants to see the field a little more during his Clemson career.

The X-factor is obviously Duane Coleman. Coleman set the record books on fire last season at Naples High School by helping lead his team to the Class 5A State Championship. He finished his senior season by rushing for 2,814 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Bernard Rambert noted Coleman's outstanding performance during practice this fall and clearly stated that, "He'd be one to watch next year," in an interview with CUTigers The Magazine.

Yusef Kelly will have the starting spot nailed down entering spring, but he'll have to do his best to hold off Coleman. In two separate interviews in the last two months, both Rick Stockstill and Brad Scott indicated that Coleman has that little something extra that has been missing in the Clemson running game.

Even with an offensive line that could see as many as four new starters next year, the Clemson running game will be as potent as it has been at anytime during the Bowden era in 2003. Top Stories