First Of Many Big Days Finally Arrives For Korn

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CLEMSON --- Wearing a No.2 purple jersey, everything was almost perfect for freshman Willy Korn as he took to the practice fields Saturday morning for the first official time as a Clemson quarterback.

?It seems just like yesterday I was putting on my Clemson hat and announcing I was going to come here,? the Byrnes High School standout said as the Tigers opened up spring practice behind the Jervey Athletic Center. ?I?m glad it is finally here. It?s a day I have dreamed of ever since I announced my commitment.?

The only thing that kept Korn?s day from being perfect --- he had to wear someone else?s jersey. He chose the No.3 as his number, but there wasn?t a purple one in stock, so he had to wear what they had.

?That?s okay. They don?t have one right now,? he said.

Why the No.3? Because it?s the number Homer Jordan wore. Jordan led the Clemson football program to its only national championship in 1981.

?Homer Jordan was great and I hope it rubs off on me a little,? Korn said.

Before he can worry about leading the Tigers to a national championship, Korn must first concentrate on winning the starting job. Right now, he starts his college career in a wide open battle with rising juniors Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese and redshirt freshman Michael Wade.

?I?m just learning the reads and getting the signals down,? Korn said. ?That?s the big thing for me right now.?

Offensive coordinator Rob Spence says he can remember only two other times in his coaching career when he came into a spring with such a wide open race for the starting quarterback spot.

?It is somewhat unusual, but at the same time very positive because all those players have hope and deep belief that they can play here,? he said.

In fact, depending on who you talk to, they all four believe they can and will be the starter come this fall.

?They are going to play the best player,? Harper said. ?That?s the way it is everywhere you go. I have been here a while and I expect to be the starter and that?s how my mind set is.?

Spence said what makes this year?s quarterback race so good is the different styles and strengths each quarterback brings to the table.

?Each player is somewhat unique in his abilities and that?s what makes the intangibles in this competition so unique,? he said.

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden and Spence hope to use the next month to narrow the list from four to two possible starters in the fall. Clemson will have its first situational scrimmage on Thursday and will not have its first full scrimmage until after Spring Break which starts on March 16.

?We want to give everyone a chance to compete,? Spence said. ?We are going to have to divvy up the reps in practice so the other players can have the opportunity to compete?

The competitiveness in highly pressured situations will dictate who plays in the fall.?
Harper is currently listed No.1 on the depth chart and Bowden expects it to stay that way at least until after the first full scrimmage. Harper says the added pressure of being the man to beat out for the job isn?t any different to him than in years past.

?I?m not third in line anymore,? he said. ?I?m starting it off and I?m just trying to do the best I can. I don?t feel the pressure. That?s why I came to school here. It comes with the territory.

?I just come out here and do the best that I can.?

Though most of the media in attendance Saturday where there to see him, Korn definitely was not displaying in extra pressure from the quarterback race, and in fact, seemed to be just taking the whole day in.

?After the first couple of passes I could not stop smiling,? he said. ?I?m just so happy to be here. I?m so excited to get to run a few plays with the offense.?


Bowden announced that Ray Ray McElrathbey has been suspended for the first four practices of the spring because of academic issues. Bowden feels he needs to concentrate a little better on his class work.

Bowden felt like all the stuff going on with his brother Fahmarr had nothing to do with his recent classroom struggles.

?We have been awfully patient in that regard. We have gone above and beyond the call of duty,? he said.

Bowden said McElrathbey?s absence will not affect the work of James Davis and C.J. Spiller will receive before the first full scrimmage. He did say, however, that it will put McElrathbey behind?

Bowden also announced some coaching staff titles and responsibility changes after practice. Tight ends coach Billy Napier will replace David Blackwell as the recruiting coordinator. Clemson had three consecutive top 20 recruiting years under Blackwell, a first for the program since the 1980s. Bowden also said that Brad Scott would now have the title of Associate Head Coach, while Dabo Swinney will have increased responsibilities and has been elevated to Assistant Head Coach?

Michael Hamlin was the only scholarship player who missed practice due to injury. He suffered a foot injury in February that will keep him out of spring practice for at least the first four practices. Rendrick Taylor, who also had an ankle injury in February, participated in the practice full go?

Andrew Diomande, a letterman receiver last year, and Zach Green a tight end who lettered in 2004 and 2006, were not a practice and will not return next season. Diomande, who had three receptions last year, has decided to transfer to another school. Green will graduate from Clemson this summer and will not return to the program?

Defensive back Darius Gaither, who red-shirted last year, attended his Grandmother?s funeral on Saturday and missed practice. Jacoby Ford did not practice due to his participation in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Arkansas.

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