CLEMSON -- There have been few, if any, freshmen football players that have entered Clemson University with more expectations and hype than Willy Korn.
And for his part, Korn did everything asked of him - he entered school early to get a jump on spring practice, has said and done all of the right things, practiced hard and been an ambassador for the university.
None of that, however, has translated into much playing time as injuries and the emergence of Cullen Harper last season have pushed Korn into the background even as fans have clamored for the "Korn Era" to begin immediately.
Now, the Gator Bowl that will officially end the 2008 season is just two weeks away, Harper will be graduating, and Korn realizes that his first true shot at his dream of being the starting quarterback for Clemson University is just around the corner.
"It seems like I have been at Clemson for eight years," Korn said after a recent practice. "Am I looking forward to the spring and the chance to show what I can do? That is what I came here for. I have been waiting forever for this. It is definitely going to be an exciting and fun spring."
Korn said he also realizes that the mantle of leader, traditionally given to the quarterback on the team, will be a process and has to be earned through actions.
"Sometimes on a football team, people have to talk about being a leader, but I am just going to focus on acting like one," Korn said. "I am going to set an example in the weight room and in mat drills and things like that."
Korn said that, with all of this in mind, he sat down in his room not too long ago and wrote down what he wants to see happen so that he can makes his dreams come true and he earns the respect of his teammates.
"First of all, I want to get 100 percent healthy, and get back to throwing the way I can throw when I am throwing my best," he said. "My second goal is to earn the respect of everybody on the team by doing the little things - going out to eat with teammates getting everybody together and trying to build camaraderie.
"Third, I am just going to lead by example. I know that some people think you have to be a vocal leader all the time, but I am going to let my actions speak for themselves."
One thing that kept Korn from seeing more action under new head coach Dabo Swinney was the shoulder issues that have plagued him since last season, but surgery last week to repair the labrum have seemingly corrected the problems, and now Korn is ready to get back to playing like, well, Willy Korn.
"When you know how you're able to perform and you're not able to do it, it's pretty frustrating," Korn said. "It just gives me peace of mind knowing I got it all cleaned up. I'm not going to rush it. Coach Napier's not going to rush it. Just a week after surgery I can tell a difference."