CLEMSON, SC - The band setting up in the McFadden Building auditorium Wednesday evening was on hand to entertain an IPTAY gathering, not the Clemson football team. But you can excuse Tommy Bowden if he felt like sitting in and belting out a tune or two.
Bowden and the Tigers received some much-anticipated good news shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, when the school announced highly-touted recruit Todd McClinton had been admitted to Clemson as a partial qualifier. The announcement ended weeks of rumors and speculation surrounding the C.A. Johnson High School (Columbia) product and his attempts to attain an acceptable score on his entrance exams.
By being accepted as a partial qualifier McClinton, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound tight end, will not be eligible to play this season but can practice with the team. If he graduates within four years the NCAA then would grant McClinton a fifth year of eligibility, the same scenario under which Terry Witherspoon is performing this season.
“We're please for Todd, and we're looking forward to seeing him (today),” Bowden said. “I plan on him being at practice (today). I want him to feel like a part of the team as quickly as possible because he's been isolated so long.”
McClinton's admission didn't come without a hitch. Atlantic Coast Conference rules prohibit member schools from accepting more than one partial qualifier per year. However Clemson's administration appealed to the ACC in hopes of getting an exception for McClinton, and Wednesday the appeal was granted.
The ACC office was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening. Cathy Sams, Clemson¹s chief public affairs officer, did not return calls made to her home before press time.
Bowden wouldn't comment on the appeal or any of the administrative factors surrounding Wednesday's events, but did say his team had remained curious about McClinton's status since the beginning of the preseason.
“They ask about him a good bit. He was up here this summer and was well received by the team,” Bowden said. “There was some volunteer throwing and catching going on (this summer), and a lot of our players saw his skill level and got real excited. So they've inquired a lot about him.”
In other practice notes from Wednesday:
- Bowden said a talented defender such as Missouri's Justin Smith (6-4, 270) causes an offense to go out of its way to account for him in the game plan.
Smith has made a name for himself by jumping over - physically hurdling - smaller players trying to block him.
“I'm not going to tell you how (we've adjusted) because (Missouri) will read it,” Bowden said. “But it does change. You have to spend time preparing for him, which therefore allows you to spend less time at something you might be productive at. It's like Keith Adams. I'm sure they've got a plan for him.”
- Starting tackle T.J. Watkins sprained an ankle during drills and his status for Saturday's game with Missouri is unknown. Defensive lineman Jason Holloman and wide receiver Matt Bailey also missed practice with injuries.
- The Tigers worked for nearly two-and-a-half hours with a “wet ball” during Wednesday's rain-soaked practice, a football designed for better grip in inclimate weather.
Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.