Happy New Year....Clemson style

by - Senior Writer -
Happy New Year....Clemson style

I stood on the balcony of the media hotel as 2013 slipped into 2014, and reflected on the year that was Clemson sports.

Exactly one year earlier, the Clemson beat writers stood in the tunnel underneath the Georgia Dome and counted down the old year into the new year while listening to the celebration that was underway in Clemson’s locker room following the Tigers’ thrilling win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. There were no bottles of champagne or noise makers, just a bunch of people standing with the coaches’ wives and kids and other personnel who were basking in the glow of a big win.

The year in between saw its share of memories – both good and bad – and thrilling and not-so-thrilling moments.

We started with the announcement that DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins would not return to Clemson for his senior season, we learned a short time later that Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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would return for his senior year and we begin 2014 wondering whether players such as Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Jr. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

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, Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Jr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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, Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Jr. Linebacker
#42 6-2, 235
Polkton, NC

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and Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Jr. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

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will be wearing Clemson uniforms in 2014.

The 2013 year saw the athletic artistry of K.J. McDaniels, the emergence of Clemson’s women’s golf program, the birth of a star in Ashlan Ramsey, the electric arm of Daniel “Goose” Gossett, and the end of the college career of a true Clemson superstar in Brianna Rollins.

The beginning of a new year typically brings New Year resolutions, but Clemson fans can only wish and hope for success for their favorite sports, so here are some things I would like to see in 2014.

*A win over Ohio St. in the Orange Bowl in a few days. The Tigers entered this season with high expectations, but losses to Florida St. and South Carolina have dimmed the luster of a 10-win season. The shine can return with a BCS bowl win.

*I wish the best of success to wide receiver Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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in the NFL – he’s done more than enough on the collegiate level, and has nothing left to prove. Go get ‘em Deuce.

*I hope that Vic Beasley understands he can take his second round draft grade and turn himself into a Top 10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft if he returns for his senior season. Another season of development and tape for the NFL guys will only help. The young man can make a lot of money if he can delay his entrance a year. Hopefully Crawford, Anthony and Bryant follow his lead.

*National Signing Day has been anti-climactic the past few years – it would be nice to get a big surprise in early February. The classes have been good – really good – but it would be great to get a little Signing Day momentum.

*Men’s basketball coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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has his supporters and he has his detractors, but there is no doubt that his teams play hard. Many thought that this would be a lost season, but this team is crazy athletic and they can be fun to watch. Is it too much to ask that they hang around the .500 mark in the ACC, knock off a ranked team and make at least the NIT this season?

* Jack LeggettJack Leggett
Baseball Head Coach
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’s baseball team played a lot of young players last season, and the pitching staff should be as good as it has been in a while. If the young players continue to develop, maybe they can take two out of three from South Carolina and actually make some noise in the ACC Tournament. Icing on the cake would be a Super Regional and a berth in the College World Series. The trip to Omaha in 2010 seems like it was decades ago.

*Let’s hope that spring practice provides a lot of competition at several spots – it’s good for the team if Chad KellyChad Kelly
RS Fr. Quarterback
#11 6-2, 210
Buffalo, NY

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pushes Cole StoudtCole Stoudt
Jr. Quarterback
#18 6-4, 205
Dublin, OH

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and Deshaun Watson pushes Kelly. Same goes for the running backs, where Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
Fr. Running Back
#9 6-1, 195
Loganville, GA

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and Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
Fr. Running Back
#23 6-1, 205
Elberton, GA

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– if he’s healthy – would provide a nice 1-2 punch in the Clemson backfield.

*And, while we are throwing up the wishes, can we have a healthy spring?

*Speaking of running backs, offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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has said since he arrived that he wants the smashmouth spread, and we saw a lot of what Morris has wanted this past season. Unfortunately, we had to watch Auburn games to see it. Count me as one of those that would love to see the Clemson Tigers run the ball with that kind of authority next season, chew up a little more clock and keep the defense off the field. That’s just a personal preference, however, because I love to see ball control and a physical offensive line.

*I’ve been talking to a lot of media folks over the past few weeks, and a majority of them see a Clemson football team that might be headed for 8-4 next season because of the loss of so many team leaders. They see a team that might struggle to find an identity. I see a team with loads of talent on defense and the skill players to run Morris’ offense. I look ahead to next season, and I see the real challenges being the same as they were this past season – Georgia in the season opener, Florida St. in the ACC and South Carolina at the end of the season. While 3-0 would be preferable, 2-1 is acceptable. Another 1-2 finish – or 0-3 – is not acceptable.

*Finally, many of you have become familiar with Nikki Steele, who writes a lot of the recruiting stories here on TigerNet and helps me out with press conferences and practices. Well, you won’t see the byline of Nikki Steele on this page at some point in 2014. She recently agreed to marry me, and the bylines will soon read Nikki Hood. In true Clemson fashion, we are looking at getting married prior to Clemson’s first home game next season.

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