Harper Solidifies Hold On No. 1 Quarterback Spot

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON --- Clemson?s Cullen Harper entered the spring hoping he could compete for the starting quarterback position. He ended the spring by running away with it.

Harper completed 15 of 24 passes and threw 3 touchdown passes as the Orange team defeated the Purple 35-16 in Clemson?s Annual Spring Game Saturday in front of 20,000 fans in Death Valley.

?I thought I had the ability to establish myself as the starting quarterback and I?m happy with the way it went,? Harper said.

Harper should be happy. The rising redshirt junior completed 42 of 66 passes this spring for 457 yards and five touchdowns. The most impressive statistic of all --- he threw no interceptions.

?He has made some good throws,? Bowden said. ?I have been real pleased with all the quarterbacks this spring, but his performance today is what has gone on all spring.

?He will really have to have a poor off season and a poor August, which would really be out of character for him (not to be the starter).?

The most impressive throw of all came in the third quarter Saturday, when Harper lobbed a perfect pass just between two defenders and only where a stretched out Aaron Kelly could haul in a 34-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone.

?He leads by his ability and that has been positive,? Bowden said. ?I think guys see that and they responded to that. I think the biggest thing right now is he has been consistent and they guys are pretty smart so they recognize and respond to that.?

Running back James Davis, who joined Harper on the Orange team, responded with 100 yards on six carries, including a 65-yard jaunt down the right sideline. The rising junior broke two tackles and then out ran the secondary on his way to the score.

Wide receiver Tyler Grisham responded by catching two of Harper?s passes a 12-yard pass and a 14-yard pass, while Kelly had six catches for 89 yards to go with his touchdowns grab.

?(Harper) obviously commands some respect, because he is getting some results,? Bowden said. ?That more than anything is what players our recognizing and noticing.?

Jacoby Ford led the Purple team with 7 catches for 105 yards, including a 33-yard pass from freshman Willy Korn which setup a Mark Buchholz field goal. Korn also threw a 36-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Brian Linthicum in the same quarter.

Korn finished the afternoon 13 of 25 for 135 yards, but he did throw two interceptions. Bowden said it is Korn inconsistency right now, which separates him from Harper. For Harper, that?s something he has worked on all spring.

?You have to be consistent,? he said. ?I think that is important at the quarterback position. You can?t be too high and you can?t be to down. Things are never as good as they seem and they are never as bad as they seem.?

Chris Clemons and DeAndre McDaniel both had big plays to lead the Orange defense. Clemons returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and McDaniel had a 34-yard interception return. Prior to Clemons fumble return, the Purple had a 13-0 lead, but his play changed the momentum of the game.

Byron Maxwell also had a 16-yard interception return. Cortney Vincent was the top tackler for the victorious Orange team with 10 tackles, while Jeremy Campbell had nine.

Ricky Sapp has two tackles for loss, including a sack and two passes broken up, while Kevin Alexander was the top tackler with six. Sadat Chambers had the only turnover for the Purple defense with a 30-yard interception return.

Buchholz was also a highlight for the purple team. A three -year starter on the Clemson men?s soccer team, Buchholz joined the team for spring practice and delivered three field goals in three attempts. He connected on kicks from 21, 32 and 35 yards and made his only extra point attempt. His 35-yarder gave the Purple a 16-14 lead with 6:28 left in he first half, but that was their last lead.

- Story courtesy of the Daily Journal/Messenger.

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