Ready to pounce?

CLEMSON — When he looks at the prospects of the new year and knowing there is just 80 days left before the start of the college football season, Clemson quarterback Willy Korn cannot help but get excited.

Who can blame him? The Tigers return perhaps the most explosive player in the country in running back C.J. Spiller and the defense is loaded with returning talent, especially along the defensive front and the secondary.

"I think we have a lot of really, really great players coming back," Korn said recently. "We have some youth in some areas, but you're going to have that every year. I'm looking forward to it.

"I think we are going to be very good on offense and I believe in each and every one of them in the locker room. I think we have a special group of guys this year." And it's those reasons that have Korn excited about the opportunity of being the leader of this team. Since he came to school in January of 2007, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound rising sophomore has been waiting for the day when he would be the guy.

Many thought he was going to be the starting quarterback his freshman season, but then junior Cullen Harper beat him out for the job and then went onto have the most productive season ever by a Clemson quarterback in terms of touchdown passes and single-season records.

Injuries to his shoulder limited Korn last year, and now that he is back to full strength and has worked out the issues he had with his mechanics, he's excited about his chances to be the starting quarterback.

"I have been waiting for this moment for a long time," he said. "Just to have an impact on a football team again, it has been a long time since my senior year at Byrnes that I have really had an impact on a football team.

"I'm just looking forward to getting to play and getting out on the field and getting the chances to play the game again. I just miss playing the game in a live situation where it counts and where the score counts.

"I'm not just having to focus in on practice sessions; I'm actually getting to prepare week-by-week and going into a live game-situation. I'm really excited about that."

To do that Korn is going to have to beat out redshirt freshman Kyle Parker for the job. Parker, who just wrapped up baseball season, made a strong case for himself to be the starter in the spring and did not hurt his chances when he made a clutch two-out hit in the bottom of the eighth inning to advance the Tigers into the Super Regional round.

But while Parker was trying to get the Tigers to Omaha, Korn was throwing to the wide receivers, scheduling workout sessions and as well as 7-on-7 drills.

So who has the edge? According to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Billy Napier, no one does and he doesn't expect to have a starter until just a few minutes before kickoff.

Korn is hoping he and Parker know something long before then.

"You would like to start developing some kind of feel and chemistry with the starting offense at some point," he said. "You would hate to wait the day before the first game of the year and not know who the starting 11 guys are. Those starting 11 are trying to get a feel for each other and time for each other. But that's not in my hands or Kyle's hands.

"That's in the hands of the coaches and if that's what they think is the best thing to do, to hold out until the first game or hold out until the third game, to decide who their No. 1 guy is, that's their decision."

As for the quarterback battle itself between the two, Korn says there are no hard feelings there. He says he has a good relationship with Parker and the two always pull for the other.

"There is no bad blood between us," Korn said. "It is probably not what most people think because we both want to be the starting quarterback for the team, but we both want what's best for the program. If it is me being the starter, if it is him or if it is both of us playing at the same time, we want what is best for the whole program.

"We get along fine and we help each other out any way we can." Top Stories