Charlie Whitehurst showed flashes of brilliance last year giving Tiger fans hopes that the QB spot may be in good hands for the next 3 years. Willie Simmons will also return to the team for spring practice to compete for the starting position. Redshirt freshmen Chansi Stuckey and Will Proctor will also join the mix next year.
Coach O'Cain worked his magic in North Carolina and the Tigers picked up a top 20 QB in Hoke County's CJ Gaddis. CJ is a speedster that runs a sub 4.35/40 and could see playing time at several positions including QB, RB, WR, or defensive back. With the current depth chart at QB, CJ is a great pickup for this year's class because of his simply because of his versatility.
QB Rating: A
Running Back is another position where the two-deep shows a lot of depth going into next season; with rising junior Yusef Kelly grabbing the starting position going into spring practice. Kelly however will have his hands full with redshirt freshman Duane Coleman who is expected to give him some stiff competition at RB this spring. Reggie Merrieweather, who was the top RB in South Carolina last year, and Kyle Browning will also join the competition in the offensive backfield.
The Tigers added to the strong depth at RB by signing New Jersey speedster Brandon Nolen Columbia native Tremaine Billie. Nolen and Billie are both athletic that could stay on the offensive side of the ball or be moved to the secondary. Although running back was not a big need in this year's class, the Tigers were disappointed to lose Lexington's Demetrius Summers to the Gamecocks.
RB Rating: C
Perhaps the biggest need for this year's class was offensive line. The Tigers do return 5 linemen that saw substantial playing time last year in William Henry, Greg Walker, Cedric Johnson, Jermyn Chester and Tommy Sharpe. Redshirt freshmen Dustin Fry, Roman Fry and Nathan Bennett are also expected to compete for starting positions next fall.
The Tigers were able to sign 4 very talented linemen in Brandon Pilgrim, Marion Dukes, Clint LaTray and Chris Capote. This year's class combined with last years should provide a good foundation for the OL for the next 3 to 4 years.
Just a few weeks ago it looked like Clemson would sign as many as 8 OL and turn this weakness into a team strength for many years to come. Unfortunately, the staff continued to struggle to some of the top linemen on their board.
Mario Henderson, Woodly Telfort and Jarrod Britt were all committed to Clemson and one point but ended up signing elsewhere. The Tigers also missed out on their number 1 recruiting target overall when Eric Young decided to leave the state to play his collegiate football in Knoxville.
It goes without saying that Telfort, Britt and Young would have stepped into starting roles next year, and if injuries hit the line again one or more of this year's freshmen may have to see playing time. Pilgrim and Capote are the best candidates to break the two-deep next fall but ideally all 4 will likely see a redshirt season next year.
OL Rating: C
Wide receiver is the perhaps the most talented position for the Tigers headed into the 2003 season. Roscoe Crosby deciding to return to play next year was great news for Tiger fans., and with starters Kevin Youngblood, Derrick Hamilton and Airese Currie all coming back, the future continues to look bright. Add Tennessee transfer Michael Collins, graduate student Tony Elliot and a very talented redshirt freshman in Kelvin Grant to the mix, and this set of receivers is as talented as you'll find on any campus in the country.
So talented that Gerald McCloud will move to safety for spring practice.
In the 2003 class, Mike O'Cain pulled another star out of North Carolina in wide receiver Chris Jefferson. Chris is another receiver that provides a great combination of size and speed, even though he'll redshirt his freshman year. The Tigers were hoping to have Noah Whiteside running down the hill next year but Whiteside stayed with his original commitment to South Carolina.
WR Rating: C+
Tight End is another position where the Tigers have quality depth in 2003. Starter Ben Hall returns with 2 years of eligibility and backup Bobby Williamson returns with 3 years to play. The Tigers added sleeper Zach Green from Conyers Georgia in this year's class. The 6-6 240 Green should see a lot of the weight room as he redshirts next year.
TE Rating: C
Despite the lack of a true running game last season, the Tigers still look to be in great shape in the coming years on offense. With the exception of Willie Simmons, Kevin Youngblood, Chad Jasmin, William Henry and Greg Walker, all of the two-deep on offense should return in 2004.
When you break it all down, with the exception of the offensive line, the overall offensive needs were minimal for the 2003 class. The gems figure to be Gaddis, Billie, and Jefferson while the big disappointment was obviously losing out on so many star linemen.
Fortunately, Tommy Bowden was able to redshirt almost every true freshman last year, which should help alleviate some of the concerns headed into next season.
Offensive Recruiting Breakdown
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