BREAKING

Good News So Far for Nick Eason


by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - The first round of heart tests on Clemson defensive lineman Nick

Eason were negative Friday, leading head coach Tommy Bowden to believe the

senior will be back on the field shortly.

Eason was held out of practice Friday after complaining Thursday night of

chest pains. He is due to undergo another battery of tests today, after which

time his status will be reevaluated.

"I think this is mostly precautionary," Bowden said after Friday's second

workout. "It's smart on our medical staff's part, wanting to do everything

possible to ensure he has a 100 percent clean bill of health when he comes

back."

Eason battled his way through an injury-plagued junior season in 2001,

playing with a severely sprained ankle on one foot while recovering from a

torn Achilles tendon on the other.

But he has been healthy this preseason, and Friday was named one of five

Tigers named to the Rotary Gridiron Classic watch list. Those chosen for the

Classic will be part of a national all-star team which will play a group of

Florida senior all-stars in a postseason game on Jan. 25, 2003.

His infectious smile and enthusiasm has become a trademark of the Clemson

defense, and - if healthy - getting him back in the lineup as soon as

possible will be a tremendous boost to the Tigers.

"He's a fifth-year senior, he's battle-tested and he's been in a lot of

wars," Bowden said. "And though he should be back soon, for the next few days

we'll miss his leadership."

On another day Eason's spot in today's scrimmage would be taken by backup

Todd McClinton. But McClinton has been out with a pulled hamstring and his

return today is uncertain.

If neither can practice, Donnell Washington and Eric Coleman will start the

scrimmage at defensive tackle.

"Under normal circumstances you'd like to start your first scrimmage with

your first team guys so they can begin to develop that chemistry and

cohesiveness that's so important," Bowden said. "Obviously we're not going to

be able to do that (today)."

NOTES

- Saturday's scrimmage at Death Valley will begin at 9:30 a.m. and run for

approximately three hours. It is closed to both the public and the media.

- Wide receiver Kevin Youngblood's struggles with his sprained foot have him

in danger of losing his spot on the depth chart for the Aug. 31 season opener

at Georgia. Youngblood hasn't practiced since late last week.

"He's got to get back in there sometime," Bowden said. "If he's not back in

there next week we'll have to start looking at someone else at (the X

receiver) for the first game."

- The other four Clemson players named to the Rotary Gridiron Classic watch

list were cornerback Brian Mance, defensive end Bryant McNeal, free safety

Eric Meekins and linebacker Rodney Thomas.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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