Tiger Freshmen Greeted to College Football Practice

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Special to TigerNet from the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger

CLEMSON --- It was a good thing for the 16 Clemson freshmen that Mother Nature gave them an extra day to prepare for fall camp Friday. On Saturday, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and his staff officially welcomed them to college football with a three hour and 15-minute practice in the afternoon heat beside the Jervey Athletic Center.

“It is a whole other level,” freshman defensive end Ricky Sapp of Bamberg said. “It is hard. I’m not going to lie to you. It is a great experience, though it wasn’t what I expected.

“I thought it would be a little easier. It was pretty tough.”

With temperatures ranging in the low 90s, plus an index that made it feel like 100, the newcomers to the college football world learned the difference between practices at the high school level compared to the college level.

“A three hour practice is crazy man,” Sapp said. “That was real crazy. I have never been through a three-hour practice in my life, but you know I will adjust to it. I will get used to it.”

Running back C.J. Spiller, the Tigers highest rated recruit in the 2006 class, said the heat did not bother him as much as getting used to the length of the practice.

“Being from Florida, the heat really wasn’t a problem for me,” Spiller said. “But being that everything was timed, that was a little different for me.

“That and the practice was longer.”

Clemson’s coaching staff’s main objective during this first week of practice is to just set the tempo for the rest of camp, and let the freshmen see what they expect out of the whole team.

“You like to see them understand the tempo we want them to practice at,” Bowden said. “You want to practice at the game tempo as close as you can. Right now the objective is not to be ready to play after today’s practice. The objective, you like to start looking at alignment, assignment and game tempo.”

What Bowden wants is for his upperclassmen to know their assignments and for the freshmen to listen and learn.

“You like to not here a coach say ‘hey we just went over that’ or ‘the guy in front of you made the same mistake,’ knowing that they should be paying attention and be aware of assignments,” he said. “Those are things we are looking for from an upperclassman standpoint.

“Freshmen right now just have to absorb. What you want to see when they do get in --- have they been paying attention.”

Spiller says the signals are the toughest thing for him to learn so far in offensive coordinator Rob Spence’s system.

“You have to know what everyone is doing,” he said. “That is the toughest thing. I look at (the playbook) every night. There is a lot you have to learn. Anything that you learn that day you just have to keep in your mind and build on that.”

Sapp, who hopes to find his way into the regular rotation at end when the season starts on Sept. 2, says he is going to try and learn as much as he can over the course of the next month.

“I definitely need to sit back and learn and observe,” the freshman said. “And when I practice, practice real hard.

“I want to come in here right away and help the team which ever way I can.”

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