Harper Running Away With Quarterback Race

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON --- As the Clemson Tigers struggled offensively while losing four of their last five games to close last season, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said many times he had no need to pull then first string quarterback Will Proctor for second string quarterback Cullen Harper because their was so much separation between the two.

Whether Bowden?s assessments were accurate or not, no one will truly know, but Harper has made it loud and clear through the first 12 practices this spring --- he has firmly separated himself from the rest of the pack.

The rising redshirt junior had another stellar afternoon in Death Valley Saturday, completing 14 of 21 passes for 140 yards and touchdown during the Tigers? second major scrimmage of the spring.

?He is a pretty good player, but experience helps,? Bowden said. ?He has the most experience, and right now he is showing that. In other words, he is doing the things he needs to do to stay where he is at.?

Those things are throwing crisp accurate passes, while making good decision and checking into the right plays. With Harper at the helm so far this spring, he has made it perfectly clear things run a whole lot smoother when he is behind the center.

?I have got stronger and as you get older you kind of mature and get used to the offense and stuff like that,? Harper said. ?My comfort level is very good and my maturity just to come out here and lead the offense is helping.?

One might think with the way Harper has separated himself from what was thought to be a close quarterback race between him, Tribble Reese and freshman Willy Korn, that the Clemson coaches might have missed what he brings to the offense last fall. How can a guy who was so far behind the starting quarterback last fall, move up and be ready to lead a major Division I program this fast?

?He is a benefactor of being here three full springs,? offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Spence said. ?He has been coached an awful lot so he has a lot of experience in what is going on even though he hasn?t played? His overall maturity and his physical toughness have improved over the last four or five months and he has had that much longer to think through everything and understand the offense.?

Harper, who has only worked with the first-team since spring practice began, says he always understood the offense, but working with the first team has really helped him learn how to manage the offense better.

?I didn?t know the offense as quite as well five months ago, but I felt like I had a good grasp on it,? he said. ?With the reps I got this spring, I think I?m trying to take that next step and get better.

?I?m not dwelling on the past. I?m looking forward to this year and just moving on really.?
Bowden has been impressed with the way Harper has taken over the reigns and led the offense.

?He has never managed the team, operated (a game plan), thrown under pressure, scrambled or made checks,? Bowden said. ?He has never done all that so he has made progress in all the areas.

?He has done a pretty good job. I don?t want to take away from his attention to detail and his sense of urgency? I?m starting to formulate some opinions in my mind, but I would like to keep them private at this point in time.?

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