Robinson Steps in for Injured Youngblood


by - Correspondent -
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Robinson had 26 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns last year.

CLEMSON - For the second time in four days, Clemson's coaching staff has been
forced to make lineup changes due to a season-ending injury.


Saturday it was the defense shuffling, trying to overcome linebacker Altroy
Bodrick's torn anterior cruciate ligament. Wednesday it was the offense's
turn, as head coach Tommy Bowden poked and prodded his wide receiver rotation
a day after junior Kevin Youngblood suffered a broken leg.


When the dust settled, junior Jackie Robinson moved from the Y (inside)
receiver to the X (outside), the position manned by Rod Gardner the past two
seasons. Freshman Roscoe Crosby was elevated to the No. 1 spot at the Y,
joining redshirt freshman Derrick Hamilton (H, or inside) and senior Matt
Bailey (Z, or outside) in the starting lineup.


Junior J.J. McKelvey (X), freshman Airese Currie (Z) junior Joe Don Reames
(Y) and junior Tony Elliott (H) are all second on the depth chart at their
respective positions. Reames is the only change at No. 2, having been moved
up from third team following Youngblood's injury.


The shuffling puts the immediate spotlight on Robinson, who in three previous
seasons has spent time at each receiver slot in Bowden's offense. But the
soft-spoken Orangeburg native insists he's not trying to fill anyone's shoes.


"I've got to do whatever the coaches ask me to do," Robinson said. "If they
want me to switch positions, it's a position I've played already so I'm
pretty familiar with it. I've got to go out and make a play, which is what
coach asks everyone on the field to do."


Robinson spent his redshirt freshman season (1999) as a backup to Gardner at
the X receiver. Last year as a starter in the Y spot, Robinson had 26 catches
for 301 yards and three touchdowns.


But with Gardner gone and no standout go-to receiver emerging from camp just
nine days before the season opener, Robinson knows those 2000 statistics must
improve.


"I like the challenge," he said. "You've got to love it. That's what
football's about, it's about the challenge and competition. Everyday you've
got to challenge yourself to get better. And since I'm switching positions
right now I've got make sure I get everything down and I'm ready to help the
team."


Starting untested wide receivers is nothing new for Bowden. As Auburn's
offensive coordinator in the mid-1990's he once had four true freshmen
starting at receiver.


But the loss of Youngblood is a difficult one. The lanky junior was the
closest physical specimen Clemson had to compare with Gardner, and despite
inconsistent hands in the past he was being looked to for big numbers this
year.


Now, with Youngblood done for the year, Bowden made the lineup moves based on
necessity more than anything else.


"Derrick Hamilton is a (redshirt) freshman, Crosby's a freshman, Currie's a
freshman and Matt Bailey ain't the guy to go over there," he said. "Jackie
Robinson's the only option right now...he's the guy who can swing across the
board at about any position."


NOTES


- Clemson began putting in its game plan for Central Florida Wednesday. On
Friday the team will run through a dress rehearsal at Death Valley.


The live scrimmage will include full quarter and halftime breaks, as well as
coaches in the boxes and on the sidelines, to acclimate the team to actual
game conditions.


- The naming of Crosby to the No. 1 Y receiver slot is a milestone of sorts.


The Union High School prodigy becomes the first true freshman to start on
offense for Clemson since Anthony Downs opened the 1994 season at running
back.


- Defensive end Khaleed Vaughn joined the list of walking wounded Wednesday,
sitting out practice with a strained neck.


He joined linebacker Rodney Thomas (pulled groin), offensive tackle Derrick
Brantley (sprained knee) and tight end Morgan Woodward (sprained knee) on the
sidelines. All are expected back within the next two or three days.


Travis Zachery also suffered a slightly sprained ankle toward the end of
Wednesday's practice, but it didn't appear to be anything serious.


- Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring had surgery to repair his torn
Achilles tendon early Wednesday, but was out of the hospital and back in his
office approximately an hour before practice.


Herring made it through practice thanks to a combination of crutches, a golf
cart and, according to Bowden, some artificial help.


"That's the first time I've ever coached with anybody who was on morphine,"
he joked.

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