Johnson Will Play, But How Much Remains to Be Seen

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Kevin Johnson will play Saturday when Florida State visits Death Valley. How much remains to be seen.

Johnson, the sophomore starting cornerback from Orangeburg, missed Thursday's practice to attend his father's funeral. Johnson also was absent from Monday's practice, but returned for workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

From a purely gameplan standpoint, the two workouts Johnson attended should be more than enough. The question now is his mental frame of mind.

"They all handle it certain ways," head coach Tommy Bowden said following Thursday's workout. "Some of them go out there and say 'hey, my family member would want me to go out there and perform well.' Everybody mourns a different way. At that age you don't know how they'll respond.

"Being here Tuesday and Wednesday, he should be okay assignment-wise. But it's the mental part you don't know about."

Redshirt sophomore Ryan Hemby will start at the cornerback slot, opposite Brian Mance. Johnson will backup Hemby, with Toure Francis playing behind Mance.

In other personnel moves, defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said freshman linebacker Eric Sampson has earned his way into more playing time behind John Leake, or possibly at other linebacker spots. Leake, who suffered a sprained ankle in last Saturday's 21-14 win at Wake Forest, practiced again Thursday and will start.

But Sampson's play against the Demon Deacons - three solo tackles, three assists - and continued progress in practice has earned him more playing time.

"The way Sampson played, I don't care who's in the game now," Herring said. "He's really coming on for a freshman. He'll play more."


- The tremendous crown on the Death Valley playing surface - which is being removed after the season - concerned Florida State coach Bobby Bowden enough that he briefly considered bringing his skill players in today for a run-through on the sloping field.

The elder Bowden changed his mind, deciding to bring quarterback Chris Rix and his receivers on the field early Saturday for a look at the playing surface.

Tommy Bowden knows how much of a factor the crown can be. Though he's never said it, there has been speculation that one reason Clemson seems to play better on the road than at home is the problems the crown creates for quarterback Woody Dantzler.

True or not, Bowden wants the crown gone, and gone it will be come the offseason.

"I'm glad they're doing it. It's more of an issue than what you'd think," he said. "It was enough of a concern that (Florida State) was thinking about coming here a day early. We may have to play our spring game at the soccer stadium or somewhere next year, but it'll be worth it."

- The 20th anniversary celebration of the 1981 National Championship team is one of several activities scheduled in the hours leading up to Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

Over 100 former players and coaches are planning to attend the event, which begins with a private reception tonight at the Madren Center. The team will be available for autographs outside Fike Recreation Center from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Terry Kinard will be inducted in the Clemson Ring of Honor Saturday, and also will be honored for his recent induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Finally, the Clemson men's and women's basketball teams will hold open scrimmages Saturday in Littlejohn Coliseum. Jim Davis' women's team will scrimmage at 10:30 a.m., with Larry Shyatt's men's team following at 1:45 p.m.

Admission to both scrimmages is free.

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