Post spring insider: left tackle

CLEMSON - The first 16 snaps of last year's game at Florida State, Clemson's offense could do little wrong.

The Tigers scored on their first two possessions and had more than 140 yards of offense as they built a 10-0 first quarter lead. It looked like Clemson was well on its way to another win over the Seminoles.

But then on a screen pass in the flats to C.J. Spiller, left tackle Chris Hairston took a blow to the head as he tried to kick out and provide Spiller with a block. When the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Hairston got up, he realized he was in Neverland instead of Doak Campbell Stadium.

Hairston's day was done and so was Clemson's. After Hairston left the game with a concussion, Florida State defensive end Everette Brown - no sacks with Hairston in the game - finished the afternoon with three sacks, while terrorizing quarterback Cullen Harper countless other times.

The Seminoles eventually won the game 41-27 and the Tigers, if they didn't already know it, discovered how good Hairston was.

Clemson also struggled earlier in the season when Hairston missed three games after a moped accident following a win over The Citadel.

Chris Hairston (6-foot-6, 320, redshirt junior, Winston-Salem, N.C.)
About: Hairston is perhaps Clemson's best overall offensive lineman and is sure to be an attractive left tackle for NFL Scouts. Played in 11 games and started 10 last season. Finished fourth on the team in knockdown blocks with 42.5 and graded out at 81.4 percent.

The Positives: He has long arms and big range that he uses well to shield defenders from the quarterback. Rarely gets beat. Is a very consistent blocker who graded above 80 percent in seven of his 11 games, including an 88 percent grade in the Tigers' win over South Carolina.

The negatives: Doesn't have anyone right now that can push him. Freshman J.K. Jay could eventually be a guy at second team that could push him in the future, but it is unrealistic to believe a true freshman can learn enough of the blocking schemes to really give a veteran player like Hairston true competition.

J.K. Jay (6-foot-6, 285, freshman, Greenville S.C.)
About: Enrolled at Clemson in January and was ranked as the No. 17 offensive tackle in the nation according to A four-star prospect according to, he was an AP All-State Selection in South Carolina in 2008 and participated in the Shrine Bowl. Worked most of the spring at right tackle, but could be and more than likely will be given a good look as second team left tackle in the fall.

The positives: Comes off the ball extremely well and isn't afraid of anyone. He is very physical. He has great football instincts and his knowledge of the game is high. He has good foot work and does a good job extending his long arms to create separation from rushing defensive ends and linebackers. Has good side-to-side movement.

The negatives: He is extremely raw. His technique is weak and he does not have a full understanding of the blocking schemes or the offense. Did great in hitting drills this spring, but struggled when the coaches started installing the offense. He also needs to get bigger and stronger. He also has a tendency to get beat in open space at times.

Jamarcus Grant (6-foot-4, 315, redshirt senior, Mullins, S.C.)
About: Was a reserve guard and tackle last season that started one game at left guard and saw action in nine other games. He is a veteran of 21 games and has played 203 snaps and has 15 career knockdown blocks.

The positives: Grant is a versatile player that has experience at both guard and tackle. He is good in the open space and is a good run blocker.

The negatives: He has trouble going from side-to-side and doesn't have the arm span to bounce defensive ends and linebackers away from the pocket. He can easily be bulled rushed at times. Top Stories