Clemson Quarterback Evaluation
Over the next two weeks we will look at each position in the Clemson program. We will look at the starters, the depth, the future, the incoming freshmen and the prospects the Tigers are looking at in this upcoming class. Today we begin with a look at the quarterback position.
Charlie Whitehurst (6-4, 220) enters his junior season and if he continues to develop at his current rate Whitehurst could leave Clemson as the school's all-time greatest signal caller. Whitehurst makes all of the throws with arm strength and accuracy but his best attributes are the little things he does for this program. Whitehurst is a terrific leader who displays toughness that gets the respect of his teammates. He also possesses very good feet. Whitehurst is able to move around in the pocket to buy extra time and is a threat to gain valuable yards after he escapes the pockets. He has played well in big games (FSU, SC and Tennessee). The Clemson staff should hope that he does for this program what other great quarterbacks have done and that is put his stamp on the program. If he continues then others in the same mold will want to come to the school to be the next "Whitehurst." However, you should have already known this so lets look at the rest of he program and the future.
Another advantage Clemson quarterbacks have is quarterback coach Mike O'Cain. He is thought of as one of the top quarterback coaches in the country.
Will Proctor (6-2, 200) showed enough progress in the spring that the sophomore enters the season as the back up to Whitehurst. This progress also enabled the staff to move Chansi Stuckey (6-0, 180) to wide receiver and C.J. Gaddis (6-0, 205) to cornerback. Proctor improved but the like almost every program in the country, there is a tremendous amount of separation between number one and number two. The moves of Stuckey and Gaddis were god news to the program as Tommy Bowden gets his best athletes on the field.
Tribble Reese (6-3, 190) and Cullen Harper (6-3, 200) are the two incoming freshmen that hold the key to the future of this position from two facets. First, the staff will see first hand their ability and this will determine their future and the redshirt questions that could face each. Second, their development will determine how many if any quarterbacks Clemson will sign in 2005.
The staff found Reese in the middle of his senior season. He is a bright quarterback that is not as tall as Whitehurst but has some of the same strengths. First, again he is very bright. Second, he moves around on the pocket well. Reese can buy that extra second a wideout may need to separate from the defender. On the downside he is very inexperienced. We will follow his development closely in his freshman season.
Harper is a bigger and perhaps stronger prospect. He also runs very well. Harper played in a running offense but the staff liked him in camp and thinks he can develop into an excellent quarterback. Harper's main drawback is his inexperience as well. Remember injuries have hampered his development.
If both are as good as the staff expects then Clemson may wish to not sign a quarterback in the upcoming class. If one if as talented but the other is a little behind, we think the Tigers may pursue a quarterback in the class of 05. However, if both are below the standards that the staff envisioned then look for the Tigers to search for one signal caller this season. Keep in mind that no one had heard of Tribble Reese until mid way through his senior season so it is possible to find quarterbacks in their senior campaign.
The Recruiting Board
Here are four quarterbacks that are on the Tigers' radar screen:
Cameron Sexton (6-2, 185) of Scotland County High School in Laurinberg, NC is perhaps the highest rated quarterback currently on the Tiger's board. It was his 4.45 speed that gathered attention but Sexton also has a powerful arm. As a junior he passed for 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has offers from Clemson, FSU, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, WVU and several others. We think Clemson is in it for the long haul. Sexton is good enough to take no matter what your current quarterbacking situation is. You cannot pass on this type of potential. Two interesting side notes on Sexton, first he could graduate in December and enroll in January. Also, he hails from the same school that sent Jim and Matt Riggs to Clemson in the 80s. Sexton also plays just a few miles from C.J. Gaddis' old high school.
Tray Rutland (6-3, 180) of East Point High School in Tri-Cities, GA camped at Clemson and the coaching staff appeared to really take interest in his future. Rutland is a physically mature prospect. He has a physical presence about him. Last season the lefthander enjoyed a good season but his numbers will increase this year. Rutland says he has offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU and others. His high school has eight to ten prospects this season so we will continue to follow his season.
Cody Brodus (6-2, 220) of Warwick High School in Newport News, VA comes from the same high school at Michael and Marcus Vick and Aaron Brooks. His coach says he has many of the skills that that trio offered. Last season Broadus passed for 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also rushed for almost 1,000 yards. This is a very physical prospect that the in-state schools currently lead for. Other offers have come from Clemson, Maryland and Notre Dame.
Ike Whitaker (6-4, 205) of Northwest High School in Germantown, MD is the high school teammate of Clemson running back commitment Tony Nelson. Last year Whitaker passed form 1,250 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 675 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is a highly rated prospect that has offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Clemson, Virginia, WVU and others. Whitaker is a taller and very athletic signal caller that continues to develop as a passer.
These are just four of the quarterbacks on the Tigers board but others will emerge. Again we think the key to the recruiting board at quarterback is the development of Reese and Harper. We will follow the story this fall.