Commentary: Stuckey Ready for Starring Role

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Coaches salivate at his physical gifts. Teammates marvel at his tenacity. Fans are ready to embrace him as Clemson's next great playmaker.

All this, and Chansi Stuckey has yet to start a game at wide receiver for the Tigers.

Such is life these days for the redshirt sophomore from Warner Robbins, Ga. A chiseled 6-foot, 180-pounder, Stuckey has been anointed - fairly or unfairly - the man responsible for not only meeting, but surpassing the stellar numbers put up by the departed Derrick Hamilton.

But if such expectations are weighing heavily on Stuckey, he does a nice job of keeping it to himself.

But he knows the expectations are there, and tries to use them to his advantage.

"I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. It's an incentive. It makes you want to go out there and work every day," he said following Tuesday's live scrimmage at Death Valley. "You don't want to let everybody down (who) have such high expectations. You want to keep those. You just want to go out every day and work, so when game time comes you'll be ready."

Being ready has never been a problem for Stuckey.

As a true freshman last season he was good enough at quarterback to send Will Proctor - this year's No. 2 signal caller - to the wide receiver position. Yet running from both under center and, at times, split at wide out, Stuckey managed to rush for 136 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries in 2003.

One of the scores was a 33-yarder that capped off the scoring spree in Clemson's 63-17 win at South Carolina. The 136 rushing yards was good enough for fourth best on the team.

And it's because of his speed and elusiveness, along with a toughness which belies his smallish stature, that head coach Tommy Bowden decided to move Stuckey from under center and put him at wide receiver.

Now the plays designed for Hamilton a year ago are being run with Stuckey in mind.

All he has to do, Stuckey said, is maintain focus.

"It's discipline. You have to do things right no matter what happens," he said. "You have to be at the right depth because the quarterback has to make his reads...You have to be disciplined in your routes and know where to be."

Maintaining that discipline is the main task lying ahead for Stuckey, by his own admission. His timing with quarterback Charlie Whitehurst continues to get better ("We had our best day today," he said Tuesday), as does the strongest part of his game - yards after the catch.

Now, Stuckey said, all that remains is getting everyone on the same page.

And if you listen to Stuckey, it's coming. Especially from the defense he tries to shred every day.

"I think we (the offense) are doing okay, but it's hard to say because the defense has been so, so good," he said. "Every day. The calls they make, the plays they make. Everybody there's playing at a different level than they did last year."

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