Napier as O.C. Finalizes Staff

CLEMSON — With the announcement of Billy Napier being officially named Clemson's offensive coordinator, Clemson's 2009 coaching staff has essentially been finalized.

After Clemson struggled to manage just 210 total yards in its loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl, some questioned whether Billy Napier was ready to be the guy driving the Tigers' offense in 2009.

But Dabo Swinney has never had such thoughts, and Monday Clemson's new head football coach announced Napier will indeed be in charge of his offense.

"I just think Billy is one of the bright young coaches in this business," Swinney said. "My gut, my instincts (tell me) I think he is one of the bright coaches and I think he has a great, great future as a quarterbacks coach, as an offensive coordinator and I think one of these days he will be a head coach.

"That's what I see in Billy. He can do the job. He fits with me well, and that is what I like about him."

Like Swinney mentioned, Napier will also stay in charge of the quarterbacks, a spot he filled when Swinney fired Rob Spence shortly after he was named interim head coach for former coach Tommy Bowden. Napier will also be in charge of recruiting at least until this current recruiting season is over next month.

Working closely with Swinney and calling plays during the last seven games of the 2008 season, Napier gained Swinney's confidence and showed enough initiative and innovation that Swinney felt he deserved a shot. It also helped that Swinney and Napier have worked closely together for much of the six years Swinney has been in Clemson.

"I have worked with him five out of my six year here. I've watched and I know him, and more importantly he knows me," the Clemson coach said.

"That's very important to me. I think having some continuity is a good thing, especially where my comfort zone is because obviously I have to do certain things that I believe in."

What Swinney believes in is being more aggressive on offense and he wants his quarterback to be more involved in the running game than how the Tigers have used that position the last six years.

"I really believe that you have to have an athletic type of quarterback," he said.

"As you watch around the country and you watch people that are winning, defensive linemen, and I don't care how good you are up front, but defensive linemen are just really, really good and every now and then your quarterback has to be able to do some things to create problems for them to where they will have to account for him."

Clemson will start the spring with four quarterbacks that fit the bill. Swinney said he will have a plan put together that will give quarterbacks Willy Korn, Michael Wade, Kyle Parker and Jon Richt a chance to compete.

"This is a game of competiveness," Swinney said. "We have guys with outstanding potential, but it is also a game of performances. You have to perform. We will create a competitive environment this spring."

Also look for the Clemson offense to be a little more up tempo than it has been the last several years. Swinney hopes he and the entire staff can go out and visit schools like Texas and Oklahoma this spring and add their philosophies to what he sees for his offense.

As for how and who calls the plays, Swinney says he is going to cut Napier loose and let him be creative, however, with a watchful eye.

"I will try to give him a little more as we move forward," Swinney said. "I felt like I needed to have my hands on it greatly the last half of the season. You know this job was on the line and I just wanted to make sure things were done the way I wanted them done.

"Everything came through me. I changed some plays and called some without even giving him a chance and then a lot of times I went with whatever Billy wanted, but I will try to maybe just step back a little bit and cut him loose and let him do what he knows how to do.

"He will do a great job. He really proved himself to me in critical situations this season."

As for the rest of the staff, Andre' Powell will stay on as running backs coach and special teams coordinator, while Danny Pearman, who joined the staff prior to the Gator Bowl, will be the assistant head coach and will coach the tight ends and the tackles.

Brad Scott will stay on as associate head coach and will be charge of tight ends and centers as expected, while his son and former Clemson player Jeff Scott will stay on as wide receivers coach. The younger Scott took over for Swinney as the wide receivers coach when Swinney moved into the interim position.

On the defensive side, Swinney announced that Charlie Harbison will be the co-defensive coordinator, along with Kevin Steele, who was named to the staff on Friday. Harbison, who coached in the Gator Bowl as well, will also coach the defensive backs, while Steele will be in charge of the linebackers.

As expected David Blackwell will coach the defensive tackles and Chris Rumph will coach the ends.

Ron West, who has coached at Clemson for the last 10 seasons, is currently going to an administrator in the football offices, but he is still involved in several jobs outside of Clemson, including a reported co-defensive coordinator's position at Tulsa.

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