Swinney eager to begin start of "something special"


by - Senior Writer -
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Baseball season has started and Clemson has a nationally-ranked basketball team getting ready for the much-anticipated ACC Tournament, but Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said it all on Thursday when he addressed the media in preparation for spring practice.

”This is Clemson, and you can’t ever go too long without talking about football,” Swinney said. “We have spring ball coming up, and we are looking forward to getting back out on the field and getting started.”

Swinney begins his first spring as Clemson’s head coach on Monday with a 3:30 p.m. practice, with the Tigers holding 15 practices that will conclude with the Spring Game on April 11th in Death Valley.

Swinney said this spring will be used as a springboard for what he feels are great things in the air in Tigertown, and can’t wait to get the players back out on the field.

”This is truly the start of what I think is something special in Clemson history,” he said. “I believe that with all my heart. I have seen how hard these kids have worked, the best part of the offseason has been seeing how they compete and push each other.

”But now it’s time to get back to football, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. We need 30 practices to get it done, but we only have 15. However, I am thankful it’s time for spring practice, and we are ready to get out there and get the team headed in the right direction for summer and get them ready for the 2009 season.”

Swinney said he is excited about the staff he has put together, and with one more hire (a Director of High School Relations), it will be complete.

”These guys have come together extremely well, and I really like our chemistry,” he said. “I am really enjoying this staff and interacting with the guys in meetings. There is a lot of freshness in that room, which is a good thing.”

NOTES:

Swinney said the defensive end Ricky Sapp, who had knee surgery, will not participate in spring practice but will be able to go once fall camp begins in August. Swinney said Sapp “looks great watching him move around. Heck, if you saw him, you wouldn’t even know he had surgery. We are pleased with his progress and he should be ready to go in the fall.”

Swinney also said that offensive lineman Barry Humphries and redshirted freshman safety Spencer Adams will also be held out of contact drills this spring, but should be able to participate in non-contact drills when the Tigers resume drills after spring break.

Clemson will open its Tuesday and Wednesday practice sessions to the public. Tuesday’s session begins at 7 p.m., while Wednesday’s will begin at 2 p.m.

Freshman running back Jamie Harper, who was chided by Swinney prior to the Gator Bowl for packing on a few extra pounds, has lost 18 pounds and weighed in a week ago at 222. “He really looks like a different kid,” Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said. “Really the number isn’t what’s significant. It’s about the body fat percentage, in regards to everything he’s carrying is productive for him as a player.”

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