In February, the 2005 signing class was documented as Tommy Bowden’s best signing class on paper. When the freshman reported in July, they quickly started crumpling up the paper and showing their worth on the field.
Tyler Grisham and Rendrick Taylor were the first to jump on the scene, as their talents were evident in summer workouts. The depth of this freshman class has really started to show in practice.
“Those true freshman have really jumped out there. A lot of them are working second team, and they are working hard. I praised them for jumping in the fire, and not backing off at all. I sure hope we can redshirt some of these guys. For a true freshman to jump out there and go two hours, then three hours, and day after day do what they’ve done and do it like the veterans, that’s impressive,” said Bowden.
Clemson opened camped with nine consecutive days of practice. This was a test in its own right, as no team under Bowden had gone nine straight days. In the past, Coach Bowden has held freshman out of conditioning, but he saw no need to hold out this year’s class.
“The fact they are staying healthy. They are getting good work, and should factor in the plan against Texas A&M. My first four or five years I held true freshman out of conditioning. They didn’t know what they were getting into it. Since they were here this summer, I threw them in. They will go through a three hour practice, and run their conditioning like veterans. So many are working second team, it is not like they are holding bags and not doing anything. It has really been impressive,” said Bowden.
The play of the freshman has not made it easy to make a final projection on who will redshirt and who will play. Sadat Chambers and Josh Miller have come on strong as of late to avoid redshirts.
“Sadat is pushing Roy (Walker). He has looked real good. Roy has done good too, but Sadat has looked real good too. Josh looked good today. We had him at a position that was stacked a little, then we moved him, and he really showed up,” said Bowden.
As of Thursday’s practice, Cory Lambert, Phillip Merling, Antonio Clay, Rendrick Taylor, and Ray Ray McElrathbey were all working second team.
“I have really been impressed with the young guys. Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham had some good collisions today (Thursday). Antonio Clay made a good hit in the goalline scrimmage. Antwon Murchison has looked good. Cory Lambert has put him in a position with today’s performance to push Marion Dukes at tackle. 6-7, 305, he’s got good feet. I would hate to go with a freshman offensive tackle like we did last year, but if that ends up being the case half way through the year, I don’t know,” said Bowden.
This freshman class could match the class of 2001, which played nine true freshmen. This class combined with a solid stable of redshirt freshman is a good sign that Coach Bowden really has the program moving in the right direction.