Scouting the ACC: Clemson

Tommy Bowden needs a huge year at Clemson this season. After a mediocre campaign ended with a humiliating defeat in the Tangerine Bowl last year, the program may be reeling. They do have several talented offensive players scouts are interested in.

Receiver Derrick Hamilton leads the list as the explosive receiver who impacts the game with long receptions down the field and equals the feat as a return specialist. He is nimble and sure-handed with the ability to steal the thunder. We expect Hamilton to enter the draft with a good season in 2003. Kevin Youngblood also offers reliable hands but lacks the breakaway speed. He has the size to excel as a possession receiver. One of the better athletes on the offense is tight end Ben Hall, a pass catcher that goes over the middle and makes the tough catch in contorted positions with defenders draped on him. Hall's blocking needs work (then again, Clemson does not ask their tight ends to block much) and so do his studies, as he's academically ineligible to play this season as of this posting. Guard Greg Walker has great size and moves well for a big man but must pull it all together as a senior if he's to move up draft boards. William Henry is another lineman to watch as the senior did a solid job stepping in last season when Derrick Brantley went down with injury. Lastly, red-shirt sophomore Charlie Whitehurst is someone that must be charted at quarterback as the signal caller did a good job last year, his first in a Tiger uniform.

Defensively the talent is scarce. A big load in the middle, Donnell Washington is a pocket pusher that drives opponents up the field…on occasion. The junior looks out of condition and at times is handled by ordinary blockers. He must commit himself to football and improve both the mental and physical parts of his game. Khaleed Vaughn is a speedy but undersized pass rusher with some growth potential. DeJaun Polk works hard on the inside but has neither the size nor size potential to stay there at the next level. Outside linebacker John Leake gets a lot of ink because he's a playmaking defender constantly around the ball. Leake has solid instincts in run defense but may be more a product of Clemson's defensive system than anything else. He has strong-safety size and unless he blows people away. Leake is likely a late round pick.

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