Commentary: Dunlap, Juco Players Filling Up Ye Olde Notebook

by - Correspondent -

Only in the South can football continuously interrupt a perfectly good basketball season. But then that's why most of you love it here, right?

Anyway, a few days worth of notes have been piling up. Happy pigskinning!!!


All signs appear to point to Steve Dunlap as Clemson's new defensive coordinator.

Dunlap spent last season as linebackers coach at Syracuse, but for the previous 13 season he was West Virginia University's defensive coordinator. He spent 17 years total on the WVU staff under Don Nehlen.

On my daily radio show (SportsTalk, 10 a.m.-Noon on WCCP, 104.9 FM) Wednesday, I spoke with Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette sports editor Mitch Vingle. Vingle, the premier authority on WVU sports in the state, covered the Mountaineers through Dunlap's entire tenure there and had nothing but good things to say about the 49-year old.

"If he comes to Clemson, they should feel lucky to get him," Vingle said. "When (former Clemson offensive coordinator and current WVU head coach) Rich Rodriguez decided not to keep him, he had his pick of jobs. He's that well respected."

Though not a big name - and definitely not a popular choice among Clemson fans when his name first surfaced Tuesday - Dunlap's pedigree is impressive. He had the No. 1 defense in the country in 1996, and his units ranked in the top 25 in the country in at least one category in six of his final eight years at WVU.

He also was a one-time finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.

And Clemson fans can rejoice in this:

If Dunlap is hired, one major area of expertise he brings is secondary play. He has a reputation for developing solid corners and safeties, then turning up the heat with a zone blitz scheme run out of the 3-4 (though you might not see the 3-4 until the secondary is up to snuff).

No announcement was expected Wednesday. Head coach Tommy Bowden was away on a recruiting trip in the late afternoon.


Junior college linebackers Brandon Jamison and Kelvin Morris, expected to play significant roles in Clemson's 2002 defensive scheme, failed to enroll for the spring semester.

Don't panic. Sports Information Director Tim Bourret told me neither was expected to be in camp until August anyway, though Morris did tell me a few weeks ago that he was hoping for a Jan. enrollment.

Either way, the Tigers are in no danger of losing the pair. Bourret confirmed that junior college players who sign in Dec. are not eligible to be recruited again if they fail to enroll for the spring semester. The letter of intent remains binding for the following season, just as a Feb. signing does for a high school student.

It's also something of a gamble to bring in juco players early. Sure, they get the advantage of going through spring practice. But they also must pass nine hours of course work in the spring to be eligible for the fall. By coming to camp in August, both players will be eligible immediately.

If, that is, they get past the Clemson admissions office, which sometimes is no easy task.

NO. 18

Clemson's 18th commitment for the 2002 class is Chris Carter from A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis, N.C.

Carter played both wide receiver and running back in high school, but his coach, Ron Massey, said the Shrine Bowl participant likely will play defense back in college.

Calls to Massey were not returned by early Wednesday evening.

Reported 2002 Football Commitments

1 LB Cory Groover 6-3 235 Hannah-Pamplico HS

2 LB Brandon Jamison 6-2 220 SW Miss JUCO (signed)

3 LB Kelvin Morris 6-3 225 SW Miss JUCO (signed)

4 DL Randy Jackson 6-4 275 GA Military JUCO

5 QB Will Proctor 6-3 190 Winter Park, FL

6 LB Anthony Walters 6-3 205 Lake View, SC

7 DE Irvin Brisker 6-7 240 Conyers, GA

8 ATH Gerald McCloud 6-3 185 Jacksonville, FL

9 WR Tymere Zimmerman 6-4 208 Fork Union Prep

10 OL Roman Fry 6-4 255 Ironton, OH

11 OL Timothy Debeer 6-6 260 Atlanta, GA

12 P/PK Cole Chason 6-0 165 Roswell, GA

13 RB Reggie Merriweather 5-10 190 North Augusta, SC

14 DB Larry Williams 5-11 175 Tallahassee, FL

15 DB Jeff Francoeur 6-4 195 Lilburn, GA

16 OL Dustin Fry 6-2 295 Summerville

17 DL Brad Lee 6-4 265 Hephzibah, GA** commits on January 21

18 DB Chris Carter 5-11 174 from Kannapolis, NC

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