Tiger Newcomers Looking for Early Playing Time

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON — Most of us have been there. You know, that first week of college. That first week away from mom and dad — adjusting to life on our own for the first time.

Now, try having to go to football practice, team meetings and lifting weights on top of all that. Oh, by the way, lets not forget about going to class.
This is exactly what two current freshmen on Clemson’s 2005 roster are adjusting to. The other 21, well they have been here awhile.

“Two people came in late and right now they are trying to learn everything,” said freshman wide receiver Tyler Grisham. “Even though we had just (a few more weeks), we had a little more time to learn it and start working on it. Without those days we would be lost. So it helps a lot.”

The two freshmen that didn’t report to Clemson in early July were Kavell Conner and Durrell Barry. The others took advantage of the NCAA’s new rule, which allows freshmen to enroll at their college during the second session of summer school.

“The NCAA rule that allows freshmen to come to school in July is a good one because it accelerates the learning process,” said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden.

Which is one reason why Bowden has noticed the progress of this freshmen class more than any of his previous six.

“This will be the most competitive preseason camp we have had since I have been here because the younger guys (are) further along and will push the veterans,” he said.

Those freshmen pushing for playing time — wide receivers Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham, offensive lineman Barry Humphries, linebacker Antonio Clay and running back James Davis.

“I don’t know about the other guys, but it is important to me not to get red shirted,” Davis said. “I want to play.”

And Bowden wants Davis to play too, but the only way the four-star recruit from Atlanta will — is how fast he picks up the terminology of Rob Spence’s offense.

“Coach Spence has a serious offense and it is complicated with the signals (and all),” he said. “In high school we would huddle so it is a big adjustment to running a no huddle offense.

“I still have a lot of learning to do right now, but I have most of the running plays down. The blocking schemes are really what are going to get me on the field. I have to learn all the blocking schemes.”

Clay said he is going through a lot of the same things on defense. He believes physically he is ready for the college game, but he knows he still has a lot of work to do scheme wise to get him on to the field.

“It is a big adjustment,” said Clay. “We all have a different defense we have to get adjusted to. The older guys ran it in the spring so it is a big adjustment as freshmen to come in and just get it all down.

“The tempo is hard to pick up, but once you run around a little bit, you kind of get used to it,” he added. “The plays are definitely hard, way harder than high school. You have to really study them to get them.”

Thanks to the early entry rule, this year’s freshmen class will get the chance to be one of the more influential classes in the program’s history. Though not one has run down the hill, this year’s freshmen are already getting compared potentially to the great classes, which produced greats such as Steve Fuller, Perry Tuttle, Terry Kinard, William Perry, and Levon Kirkland.

“That is what everyone says. We are one of the classes to have the best grades in summer school and the first class that has a chance to have many players that could play as freshmen and that is great,” said Grisham. “None of us really understand that yet because we are freshmen and we don’t understand that is an amazing thing to have that many freshmen who could play.

“Yeah, we are talking about it and it is exciting.”

Grisham is one of the more exciting players to watch in camp thus far. Even before camp, older players like quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and cornerback Tye Hill were singing his praises.

They said he and Taylor were both well conditioned and seemed to have already learned a good portion of the offense. Grisham says they got the playbook about a month before camp.

“When we started looking at, all we saw were these names,” he said. “We had no idea what to do. It’s wild.

“It doesn’t tell you what to do. You have to look at the names and say ‘I have to run this route.’ It doesn’t tell you the route. You have to know formations and the snap count. There is just so much stuff you have to know for one play.”
But all the freshmen say they are ready for the challenge, and just like in life, there is a time when all of them must grow up.

“Growing up early,” Grisham said. “Right when you get here you have to learn how to live on your own basically. It was tough. It was a hard transition. Now we are getting used to it.

“It is still tough because you have no free time. That is something that is totally different, but that is a part of playing college football.”

And that’s something some of them will get a chance to do this year.

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