CLEMSON - The recruiting class that walked onto Clemson's campus in the fall
of 2001 was headlined by big names, players such as Roscoe Crosby, Airese
Currie and Ben Hall.
But it is the depth of that class, the players beyond the big names, which
has manifested itself on the field here in 2002. And it is because of that
group of players that head coach Tommy Bowden, among others, remains very
optimistic about Clemson's future.
"You go on down the line, there's a whole bunch of them," Bowden said
following Thursday's practice. "I wish I could have redshirted all of them."
Clemson's defensive struggles in 2001 led to several true freshmen being
forced into action, players such as linebackers Eric Sampson and Leroy Hill,
defensive linemen Eric Coleman and Mo Fountain, and defensive backs Travis
Pugh and Tavaughn Monts.
All except Monts are either starting or providing quality performances in a
backup role this season.
Much the same went for the offense a year ago, which saw Currie, Hall and
Crosby play pivotal roles in the Clemson offense.
Here in 2002, players lucky enough to be redshirted last season have grown
into roles of major producers for the Tigers. None has been more high profile
than quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who in two starts has shattered three
Clemson single-game passing records and tied a fourth.
Tailback Tye Hill, who also redshirted last season, had his breakout game
last week at North Carolina. Hill rushed for 105 yards on 14 carries, and
gives the Tigers a legitimate big-play threat at tailback for the first time
in Bowden's tenure.
Tight end Bobby Williamson has split time with Hall because of his superior
blocking skills. Others, like defensive back Jamaal Fudge, kicker Stephen
Furr and fullback Cliff Harrell, have played important backup roles in 2002.
And Harrell, at least, appears to be on the fast track for even more playing
time in the season's waning weeks.
All together, it adds up to Bowden's most productive class to date.
It is a pattern he hopes to repeat more often than not.
"I wish I could have done like this year and redshirted them all but one,"
Bowden said. "Now in about two, two-and-a-half years, you'd have a bunch of
fifth-year seniors and fourth-year juniors. We'll get there, but it's thrown
us about a year behind."
2001 Football Signees
1 WR Ty Zimmerman 6-2 185 Bennettsville SC
2 OL Grant Oliver 6-5 285 Lexington SC
3 DB Travis Pugh 6-1 180 Manning SC
4 DL Mo Fountain 6-2 210 Camden SC
5 RB Tye Hill 5-9 170 St. George SC
6 DE Trey Tate 6-4 240 Gaffney SC
7 LB Roosevelt Nelson 6-2 205 Rembert SC
8 RB Cliff Harrell 6-1 235 Tallahassee FL
9 RB Kyle Browning 5-8 165 Union SC
10 DB Curtis Baham 6-1 180 New Orleans LA
11 DL Leo Reed 6-4 270 Georgetown SC
12 TE Bobby Williamson 6-4 240 Tarpon Springs FL
13 LB Leroy Hill 6-0 200 Haddock GA
14 DL Chip Myrick 6-5 245 Atlanta GA
15 DB Eric Sampson 6-2 195 Jacksonville FL
16 DL Mark Jetton 6-4 225 Charlotte NC
17 DB Tavaghn Monts 6-3 185 Jacksonville FL
18 DB Jamaal Fudge 5-10 170 Jacksonville FL
19 DB David Dunham 6-0 190 Lake City FL
20 QB Charlie Whitehurst 6-5 195 Alpharetta GA
21 OL Eric Coleman 6-3 275 Fork Union VA
22 DL Rod Whipple 6-5 200 Irwinton GA
23 DB Micheaux Hollingsworth 5-11 190 Shannon NC
24 DE Charles Bennett 6-4 215 Camden SC
25 DE Wendell Singletary 6-7 255 Brunswick NC
26 WR Derrick Higgins 6-2 185 Lamar SC
27 WR Airese Currie 6-0, 176 Columbia SC
28 TE Ben Hall 6-5, 225 Welford SC
29 WR Roscoe Crosby 6-0, 170 Union SC