Veteran tight ends leading the way

Whether it's Kyle Parker or Willy Korn, Clemson's tight ends will play a big role in providing a safety blanket for whoever is playing quarterback.

Two weeks away from the 2009 opener, Michael Palmer is starting to get anxious for Middle Tennessee. He believes this season's pre-season camp is the best he's been a part of at Clemson.

"It's the hardest working and we have just gotten a lot accomplished," Palmer said. "I'm just ready to put it out on the field."

On the field last year, his 12 catches went for 165 yards and three touchdowns. There could be an uptick in those numbers this season.

"Mike Palmer is a guy with a very high football I.Q.," said offensive coordinator Billy Napier, adding he's got a lot of trust in Palmer's abilities.

But it's not only Palmer who Napier believes will make contributions from the tight end position. Napier believes there's a solid group of players at tight end and he likes the skill sets each brings to the position.

Chad Diehl has developed a reputation around the team as a real force, no matter what position or side of the ball he's on.

"Chad Diehl is a very trustworthy kid, a very physical player who really, really works hard on developing his hands and with his niche as a pass catcher," Napier said.

After red-shirting last year, Napier expects Dwayne Allen to begin building the foundation for what looks to be a promising career at Clemson.

"Dwayne has a bright future. He's just a red-shirt freshman. This will be the year for him to go out there and really get his feet wet and learn from Mike (Palmer) and study under him," Napier said. "Dwayne is getting ready to have an awesome year."

Like Allen, Napier said Durrell Barry has shown flashes of brilliance during camp.

"He's had a good off-season. He's struggled a little bit lately, but I think he's going to get back on the right track here as we get closer to the game. He's a guy with a great skill set that can go out there and do some things these other guys can't do." There's no doubt who leads the group though. Not only is Palmer the group's leader, but one of the leaders on the team.

"I expect big things from Mike. Not only as a player, but in a leadership role," Napier said. "I'm very confident in him. I trust him.

"We're going to put him out there and give him a chance to help us go win games."

Whether it's blocking on the blind side or running a route, Palmer understands the role the tight ends will play this season.

"We'll do it all in this offense and we love doing it," he said. "We're getting a lot of opportunities this year during camp to make plays. I'm excited about the season as a tight end group." Top Stories