CLEMSON, SC - As Todd McClinton walked off the practice field Thursday evening, Tommy Bowden cast an eye toward his prize recruit and smiled.
“Look at that,” he said. “He could eat a stack of pancakes off the top of (assistant head coach) Brad Scott’s head.”
After the laughter died down, Bowden qualified his observation.
“A short stack,” he deadpanned.
The light exchange between Bowden and the few reporters gathered outside the Jervey practice facility was one of two statements the second-year coach made concerning McClinton, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound freshman tight end who reported to his first practice Thursday, one day after being admitted to Clemson as a partial qualifier.
The other remark was a guarded comment designed to keep reporters happy and himself from appearing to be focused on anything but Saturday’s opponent, Missouri.
“It’s good to see him in orange, how about that?,” Bowden said.
It’s understandable if Bowden has trouble keeping his giddiness in check. McClinton’s presence at practice wipes out many of the questions lingering over the Clemson program since signing day. The seemingly endless rumors surrounding McClinton’s eligibility status no doubt weighed heavily on the minds of coaches and players alike, and now with the situation finally put to rest the daily stream of questions will focus solely on football.
But if Bowden needed any enticement to stay focused on Missouri (3:30 p.m.), it came in the form of Thursday’s injury report. Defensive tackle Jason Holloman (ankle) and wide receiver Matt Bailey both are listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game, while starting left tackle T.J. Watkins is questionable after suffering a sprained ankle in during drills Wednesday.
If Holloman does play, he won’t start. That assignment instead would go to senior Gary Childress, who will share time with junior Jovon Bush. If Watkins can’t go, sophomore Brady Washburn will start at left tackle.
“The competition’s picked up and we’ve got three less starters than we had against The Citadel,” Bowden said. “Those things...you’ve just got to play. You have to step up. We’re not busting at the seams with NFL players, so the one’s you’ve got better be full speed.”
- Freshman kicker Aaron Hunt, who made his only field goal attempt and all three extra points last week, will be the starter Saturday vs. Missouri. Tony Lazzara will handle kickoffs.
- Saturday’s game will be televised locally by ABC (WLOS-13) as part of the network’s regional broadcast package.
Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.