CLEMSON - Clemson's annual rite of spring - football practice - opens up on Friday, and head coach Tommy Bowden's immediate goals couldn't be more simple.
"Finding the top eleven guys on offense then the next best eleven defensively," he told media assembled Tuesday at the McFadden Building.
A trite answer to some, perhaps, but to Bowden the response is sincere. With two new coordinators in place this spring - Rob Spence on offense and Vic Koenning on defense - identifying each side's top players becomes the No. 1 objective this spring.
Doing so with new bosses calling the shots may take more time than usual, but so be it. Bowden insists identifying talent is the most important aspect of this spring session.
After that, the rest will fall into place.
"(Next) I think its going to be understanding schemes and understanding offense and defense and that's pretty much normal," said Bowden. "Again it's a little more different because we are a little more unique because we are changing some terminology. (But) both schemes are fairly similar.
"Then its finding leadership, seeing who going to assume leadership roles based on finishing up our next to last 5:30 in the morning workout. We went five days last week, (and) going into the third day you can kind of see some of the chemistry and moral and personality of the team starting to gel a little bit."
The pre-spring depth chart shows a number of familiar faces in familiar spots, as well as a few changes. Among them:
- Roman Fry moving from guard to backup center;
- Bobby Williamson returning from to tight end from defensive end;
- Jamaal Fudge swapping safety spots, moving from strong (or rover a year ago) to free;
- Redshirt freshman Aaron Kelly opening up at the starting 'W' wide receiver.
Also listed at one of the starting receiver spots is rising redshirt junior Kelvin Grant.
An enigma whose outstanding talent has been overshadowed by inconsistency - both on the field and in the classroom - Grant apparently has made enough strides to impress Bowden and Spence.
And that's just where his school work is concerned.
"Probably the biggest change is we meet once a week with academic support staff and go over a list of pretty good academic performance this week," Bowden said "His name was on there, which was unusual. Good instead of bad. That's a difference."
Whether it translates into fewer dropped balls on the field remains to be seen, but Grant will at least open the spring at the starting 'X' receiver.
Bowden also commented on several other issues.
- On whether having two new coordinators will cause more time to be spent on terminology changes:
"No, the schemes are offensively similar and defensively there are some carry overs. That's kind of good. It breaks monotony after being together for eight years offensively with the same terminology. We really needed that from a terminology standpoint."
- On whether he can really pull back and let Spence run the offense:
"I have been down this road before. I honed myself off of Rich (Rodriguez). I have been in this environment before."
- On Williamson's move back to tight end:
"The need is going to increase over there. Ben (Hall) played for so long...At times we plan on that being a pretty important piece of the offense. He'll be starter from day one on offense."
On his confidence in Spence and Koenning:
"They are both proven and experienced guys at the 1A level, so I don't have any reservations in that regard at all. They both have track records."
Friday's first practice is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. It is closed to the public.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.