Today we look at the starters, the depth, the newcomers and the recruiting board for offensive linemen.
Roman Frye and Marion Dukes are the starting offensive tackles and perhaps the biggest question marks entering the 2004 campaign. New offensive line coach Brad Scott has the Tiger centers and guards not setting as deep in pass protection so there is more pressure on the tackles to protect Charlie Whitehurst. Both are talented but needed to become more consistent. We think both will be fine but need to stay healthy because of the lack of depth at this position.
Cedric Johnson and Chip Myrick were big stories last season. Johnson was the Tiger's most dominant offensive lineman and the move to insert Myrick into the starting lineup made a huge difference in the make up of the front. Johnson moves very well and Myrick is extremely bright. Also the Tigers have talented depth here so offensive guard is a strength.
Tommy Sharpe is a wonderful story. He just keeps getting it done and as some re-thinking the offensive center spot. Its ironic that colleges recruit 6-7 offensive linemen and then try to teach them to stay lower for leverage. At 6-0, Sharpe is already lower and has leverage. Plus no one plays harder than Sharpe. Add Dustin Fry and Clint LaTray and this is a very deep and talented spot.
Brad Lee and Tim DeBeer have more questions about their ability and very little experience. DeBeer showed some signs this spring but missed a big opportunity when Fry and Dukes struggled.
Brandon Pilgrim and Nathan Bennett give Scott two very talented backups at guard. Both saw significant snaps last season and can be counted on in 2004. Again, the interior offensive linemen might be the deepest positions in this program.
Dustin Fry is one of the strongest players in Clemson history and looked good last season. He has a bright future in Tigertown.
Clint LaTray received good reviews in his red shirt season. The staff likes the way he moves. LaTray may have to wait another year but he will contribute in the future.
Christian Capote battled injuries and conditioning problems last season. If he wants to be a part of this rotation then he must improve both areas.
Corey Lambert and Barry Richardson are two huge tackle prospects that may get a look in 2004. Both are athletic, mountain-type bodies. With their ability and the lack of depth at tackle, there may be an opportunity for one or both in 2004 to avoid a red shirt.
Bobby Hutchinson is a highly thought of prospect that could play center in his Clemson career. His early offer was based on his ability to move his feet. Hutchinson will most likely red shirt this season.
Tony Willis is a big body that should play on the interior offensive line after red shirting this season.
Taylor Tremel is a prospect that most feel would benefit with a year of getting bigger and stronger.
The Recruiting Board
Barry Humphries of Belton, SC committed to the Tigers after an offer this May. Humphries is an extremely strong offensive tackle that could project as a center in the future. This is a smart prospect that is one of the top three offensive linemen in the state this season.
Thomas Austin of Camden, SC is an extremely bright offensive line prospect. He told us he plans to commit before the season with Clemson, Auburn and Vanderbilt as his top three. We think Austin is a future guard in college. Austin is another of the big three offensive line prospects in South Carolina.
Jamarcus Grant of Mullins, SC is the other of the top three offensive linemen in the state this season. This offensive tackle prospect says he will commit to either Clemson or South Carolina before October. The Tigers are the current leader for this massive tackle.
Michael Oher is considered by some as the finest offensive linemen in the South. The Memphis, TN prospect says Tennessee, LSU, FSU, Ole Miss and Clemson are among his leaders.
Duke Robinson of Atlanta, GA is a great looking offensive tackle prospect. He has offers from Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Clemson.
Charles Jackson of Buena Vista, GA is being recruited in football and basketball. He says he has offers from Georgia Tech, Georgia, Auburn, Miami, Tennessee and Clemson.
Quentez Ruffin of Tallahassee, FL says Clemson has offered. The other schools among his favorites are Florida, FSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, NC State and North Carolina.
Jon Walko of Germantown, MD has offers from Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Clemson.
Devon Dawson of Greer, SC is still looking for his first offer but lists Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee as his favorites.
We think the Tigers could sign four or five offensive linemen in this upcoming class. The Tigers have a commitment from Humphries and lead with Grant and Austin who could commit soon. If that is the case then the staff could turn its focus on one or two more commitments and they could afford to be very picky.