Former HS teammates fighting for same spot

Panthers defensive end Jovan Haye said he was shocked and excited when the team drafted his high-school teammate Stanley McClover in the seventh round in April. "It was strange because I didn't expect them to draft Stanley just like I didn't expect them to draft me last year," said Haye, a sixth-round pick from Vanderbilt in 2005.

Haye and McClover were teammates at Dillard High School in Sunrise, Fla. Haye played right guard and McClover was the team's left tackle.

Now, as irony would have it, they're back together again and will spend most of the summer competing for the same job -- the No. 4 spot at defensive end for the Panthers.

Carolina's starting defensive ends are Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker, while Al Wallace is the top reserve. Normally, the Panthers keep four defensive ends on the roster, although last year they did keep five, including Haye.

But though he was on the 53-man roster all season, Haye was active for just two games and didn't register any tackles.

This year, with newly acquired defensive tackle Damione Lewis having the ability to shift outside to play defensive end, the Panthers could revert to keeping five defensive tackles and four defensive ends as in the past. The team is fairly deep at defensive tackle with Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Kris Jenkins slated to start and three experienced reserves -- Jordan Carstens, Kindal Moorehead and Lewis -- waiting in the wings.

So Haye and McClover could find themselves battling for the No. 4 spot previously held by Kemp Rasmussen, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent earlier this year.

And there's a good chance only one will make the 53-man roster.

"It's kind of a weird situation in that way, but you put your faith in God's hands and whatever happens, I will be happy," Haye said. "And besides, if we both play well enough, then maybe both of us will be here. You just never know how it will play out, so you can't worry about the numbers."

They hope they can push each other to become better, just as they did in high school.

McClover becomes the third player to join the Panthers from Dillard High.

Cornerback Chris Gamble, another friend of McClover's, also attended Dillard.

"I've got two former high school players here, especially Jungle (Haye), so it's like a dream come true," McClover said. "I really couldn't ask for a more perfect situation than being here in Carolina."

Haye has spent the last month holding McClover's hand, showing him where to go for team meetings and where he should line up on the field, and helping him with some pass-rushing techniques.

"Since I've been here, he's been my mentor," McClover said. "I'm very lucky to be here."

It doesn't seem to bother Haye that if McClover excels this summer in training camp that he could actually take his roster spot.

Haye and McClover both seem to have the best interest of the Panthers in the forefront of their minds.

"We come from a competitive school and there will be no hard feelings no matter if he starts over me or if I start over him or what," McClover said. "We're making the team better."

Said Haye: "There ain't no bad blood between him and me. If there was I wouldn't be trying to help him out. I want him to be able to come in and contribute so the team can get better."

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