Today, CUTigers begins its early look at spring ball with a closer look at five potentially surprising players:
#5. WR Marquan Jones
Now a rising sophomore, Jones played in eight games, catching five passes for 37 yards during his first in Tigertown. Not bad considering he was playing behind players like Aaron Kelly, Tyler Grisham and Jacoby Ford. Look for Jones to step in the role vacated by Grisham this spring and excel in a major way. He has shown brief flashes of quickness and excellent hands through the early stages of his career and now the stage is set for him to become a weapon in Clemson's new offensive scheme.
#4. RB Andre Ellington
With C.J. Spiller back for his senior season, the Tigers are absolutely loaded in the backfield. Not only will they have the services of former five-star back Jamie Harper, but don't forget about Andre Ellington, the state of South Carolina's No. 1 running back for the 2008 recruiting class. Ellington was super explosive on the scout team last fall and could quietly make a name for himself in a crowded backfield later this fall.
With the losses of both Mike Hamlin and Chris Clemons at the cat and strong safety positions, the Tigers need help in their defensive backfield. Entering spring practice, at least one of those spots will be filled by DeAndre McDaniel, who will move back to a more natural position instead of playing outside linebacker like he did in 2008. Hall figures to be the next in line to grab a starting spot after coming extremely close to seeing the field as a true freshman. He's physically ready to compete, he just needs the chance to see the field. This spring, that's exactly what he'll get.
#2. QB Kyle Parker
It promises to be one of the more intriguing battles of spring practice. On one hand you have the fan favorite in home-town hero Willy Korn. On the other, you have one of the most athletic players on campus in Kyle Parker. A healthy Korn versus baseball standout Parker should provide plenty to talk about throughout the months of March and April. Korn is the starter going in, has been on campus now for two years, but will he be going out? Parker is shorter, but has the stronger arm and has already shown he can handle the pressure of playing big time college sports when he was named a first-team All-ACC performer in baseball when he should have been getting ready for his senior prom. Meanwhile Korn should be as healthy as he's been in his entire career and has to be foaming at the mouth to compete. Stay tuned.
#1. WR Jaron Brown
Consider him this year's version of Brandon Clear, but he's even ahead of Clear's development a year ago because he's demonstrated a deeper commitment off the field. According to what we are hearing, Brown may have as much potential as wide receiver on Clemson's campus right now and could be the next Aaron Kelly-type of player on offense. This spring should be his coming out party.