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  by - Senior Writer - Monday, December 24, 2012 11:07 AM
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CLEMSON – Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 270
Mauldin, SC

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spent much of the first three quarters of the rivalry game against South Carolina on the sidelines, cheering his teammates on, having played just one series as the game entered the fourth quarter.

At that point, however, he learned that starting center Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
Gr. Center
#55 6-5, 265
Pelion, SC

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might not be able to continue.

“It was at the start of the fourth quarter,” the redshirt freshman from Mauldin told TigerNet this week. “I knew Dalton had hurt his leg, but I really didn’t know what was going to happen because Dalton wanted to go back in. I was supposed to be at guard the next series.”

A quick visit from offensive line coach Robbie CaldwellRobbie Caldwell
Assistant Coach / Offensive Line
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changed those plans.

“Dalton came over and he started limping, and Coach Caldwell told me to go over and told me to start getting some snaps,” he said. “Once I started getting snaps, I thought, ‘Oh well, at least I will feel more at home at center than I will at guard.’ I was already in there at guard for a series, so I had been in the game.”

Norton played the entire fourth quarter and said it was a great learning experience, even if the snaps were limited.

“It was a great experience for me to have at this point in my career,” he said. “It was a big deal for me, because I am from South Carolina and I know about the rivalry. I wanted to do everything I could to help us win that game. It is extremely important for me to win that game, because if you don’t win you really hear about it. It isn’t so much the players as it is the annoying fans out there”


Norton has helped out at guard and center this year, but offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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said this week that he expects Norton to be a center in 2013.

“He has played a lot of positions for us, and he has done a good job,” Morris said. “But I really think center will be his position. He still has to continue to grow and develop, but we are looking for good things out of him.”

Norton said he will do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“I am going to do the best that I can,” he said. “I think I will be at center, but we will see who develops over the spring and see who steps up. I will just do whatever it takes to help the team win. It would be nice to just play one position because of the mental strain, and the different techniques.”

He said he thinks the offensive line made major strides this season, and will be even better next year.

“I see this line being better with a lot more experience” he said. “I think it is something we can look forward to. I feel like we are growing into a very physical offensive line. We know it is on us. We averaged something like 6.5 yards per carry or something like that against South Carolina, and we think that is pretty physical. But we have to step it up every game. Everyone will say we aren’t good enough when we lose. We just have to step it up every game, and then no one will question us.”

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