New Clemson Football Players Adjusting To College Life

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - There they were. Clemson's wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks trotting out onto the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center last summer to throw the football around, while at the same time working on routes and timing.

And there Willy Korn stood, just before the start of his senior season at Byrnes High School, watching, longing to be out there and longing to be a Clemson Tiger. Korn, one of Clemson's five newest editions to the football program, says his decision to give up the second half of his senior season came at that point, while he was on the Clemson campus for Tommy Bowden's annual football camp.

"I saw a bunch of the players come out - the receivers, the running backs and the quarterbacks," he said Thursday during his first talk with the media. "They were out there throwing so I just sat there and watched them for 10 or 15 minutes so I thought to myself, 'Man, I want to be a part of this team so bad.

"It was pretty much a no-brainer when Coach (Rob) Spence wanted to know if I wanted to graduate and start in January."

Korn, who enrolled in school with former Byrnes teammate and wide receiver Xavier Dye, offensive lineman Landon Walker of North Carolina, tight end Brian Linthicum of New Mexico and defensive back DeAndre McDaniel of Florida, says the past week at Clemson has been a hectic one.

"The past few days have been pretty busy so we are just trying to adjust to it all right now," Korn said.

Though it has been chaotic at best, everyone agreed that enrolling early is well worth it.

"I love it," Walker said. "I'm trying to get everything down. It has been a fun ride so far. Getting to school early gives me and all of us a chance to compete next season. I want to see how much I can help the team and kind of earn my stripes."

Korn, who is unofficially listed as the fourth-team quarterback going into the spring behind Cullen Harper, Tribble Reese and Michael Wade, says he is concentrating on just learning the offense, finding his classes and adjusting to college life right now as opposed to worrying about being the starting quarterback in the fall.

"I'm here to learn the offense, making it a smooth transition from high school to college, getting used to going to classes, getting used to going to study hall and getting to know the offense like the back of my hand," he said. "That's what I'm focused on. When the season comes around I don't want to have to think about what I need to do on this play or on that play. I want to know everything."

Korn does know he has a chance to get the starting job in the fall, and if he models his freshman season like Florida's Tim Tebow and Georgia's Matthew Stafford, then that shot becomes very realistic.

"We followed Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford and kept up with them in the newspaper on how spring practice went and how they were adjusting," Korn said. "So if I had to guess who I got the idea from (to come early), it would have to be those two guys.

"Anytime you see a true freshman quarterback playing, it gives you some encouragement. But that's not the only reason I decided to graduate early. I wanted to come in and get adjusted to classes, while balancing study hall and doing anything I can to contribute to the team."

Korn knows he has a shot at playing in the fall, but he also knows with three guys who have been waiting patiently to get their shot - it will be a tough battle.

"I saw Will Proctor was going to be graduating and I know there is a possibility for me to come in and play early, but that is not a focus of mine right now," he said. "I'm at the bottom of the depth chart.

"There are three guys that are ahead of me right now and they have been here for the last three years or so and have been busting their butts all these years. I'm just coming in here trying to learn the offense as fast as I can and compete."

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