CLEMSON - Given a second chance to master a new position late last season,
Clemson's Jermyn Chester decided enough was enough.
After struggling with the shotgun snap in a previous attempt to be Kyle
Young's primary backup at center, things began to slowly come together for
Chester toward the end of the 2001 season. And after a strong showing this
spring, the redshirt junior appears firmly entrenched as the departed Young's
Chester (6-foot-2, 295 pounds), who reported for conditioning drills with the
rest of the Tiger veterans Thursday, is eager to get to work. He wants to
prove that the Clemson offensive line can be a dominant unit in 2002 despite
the loss of three starters from a year ago.
"I've played before, I've started before, so I feel like I can offer some
experience," Chester said. "I'm ready. I've got an opportunity here and I
don't want to waste it."
Appreciating each opportunity is something that comes natural to Chester,
though he has had more than enough trauma in his career to keep him on the
straight and narrow should he ever waver.
After suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee playing
basketball during his junior year in high school, Chester overcame the injury
and was back anchoring the Titusville (Fla.) offensive line less than eight
months later. Ironically, he tore the same ligament in the same knee his
freshman year at Clemson (1999), only to battle back again to provide the
Tigers with solid backup play at both guard - his natural position - and
center over the past two seasons.
It was trying to master the center position that gave Chester as much grief ,
perhaps, as the torn ACL. Initially he struggled mightily with the shotgun
snap, so much so that he was moved back to guard.
But slowly, through his tireless work ethic, he began to improve.
Thanks to a slight adjustment in his stance ("My hips are a little higher,"
he said) Chester finally took a stronghold on the position over the latter
half of spring practice in April.
Now, he's the solid No. 1 on the depth chart and ready to handle anything the
position has to offer.
"The mental part of the position in the most difficult," Chester said. "I
felt like I had the snap down late last year...and you get a lot of
(blocking) help inside. But center's more of a mental position. You have to
be the most consistent person on the field.
"You can't make mental mistakes out there because you have to tell everyone
else on the field what to do."
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.