Dan Scott Blog Extra: Bowden Searching For Leadership As Preseason Progresses


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CLEMSON - Temperatures hovering near triple digits continue to be yet another obstacle for Clemson's football players.

The sun beats down with nauseating consistency. It doesn't care who's hurt, or who's tired. It seemingly has but one function these days - to make the hot even hotter.

This week, more than any other in camp, will be the biggest grind of them all.

Wednesday was the second of three scheduled two-a-day sessions for the week. None of them so far have been given a break from the intense heat.

Add to the formula the usual fall camp ingredients - players tiring of seeing only each other day after day, nothing (even school) to serve as even a minor distraction or mental break from the monotonous routine of meetings, practice, more meetings and sleep - and coaches undoubtedly watch their troops begin to simmer and/or wilt.

It's at this juncture that Tommy Bowden and others like him across the country begin looking for true leadership.

Not the guy who does the most talking, but little else. No, the search this time of year is for the guy who is able to keep his motor running consistently despite the heat; the guy who catches a teammate giving less than his best effort and challenges him to do better.

The guy who, though totally exhausted and perhaps beaten on the previous play, drags himself back into position and wins the battle on the next snap.

p>Those are the guys coaches look for on the football field.

And at Clemson, it's just about time for such leaders to emerge.

"With so many underclassmen I don't think we're near where we need to be," Bowden said following Wednesday's second workout. "But I think there's a lot of potential, and I think a lot of that will materialize over the course of this week...We're not where we need to be or want to be, but I think there are a few other guys who will emerge before the first game."

The most likely candidates are players chosen by their own teammates.

In the current Clemson media guide, the players were polled as to which teammate they respected most. The top two vote-getters were defensive end Phillip Merling and quarterback Cullen Harper. Running back James Davis was third.

Ironically, most of Merling's votes came from offensive players against whom he has worked in practice. Likewise with Harper, who got most of his votes from Tiger defenders.

But there's room for more on the leadership bandwagon, and Bowden's hope is that a number of different players hop on for the ride. And sooner, rather than later.

Of course Merling, Harper, Davis or anyone else who may show up can be a fine leader in the preseason.

The final test, though, comes once the season gets underway.

"That's the dissertation for the doctorate," Bowden said. "I think that's the only time, really, you can find out. You're in the fourth quarter, down 14 or 21. Second half and you've got to come back...You can't duplicate those things in practice.

"Only when the games begin do you get the true sense of your team."

Dan Scott's blog can be found at www.offmicwithdanscott.blogspot.com, or at www.wccpfm.com.

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