Charlie Whitehurst was without question one of the best quarterbacks to ever play at Clemson. He set basically every school passing record he could. Now, Whitehurst is off to the NFL, and Clemson has to start a new era.
The era began this spring with Will Proctor as the starting quarterback. Proctor was a capable backup last season, and the coaching staff had full confidence in him controlling the offense. Proctor is now the number one man.
It is a one shot deal for Proctor, as he approaches his senior year on the field. There will be a drop-off from Whitehurst to Proctor, but it could possibly go unnoticed.
Clemson has five returning starters on the offensive line. The top two wide receivers returning, and a one of the nation’s best backfields.
James Davis is the focal point of the offense. Davis proved last season that he could shine on the big stage. He was more than willing to carry the load for the Tigers to win. Davis returns to run behind the best offensive line Tommy Bowden has seen at Clemson.
Reggie Merriweather, Demerick Chancellor, and incoming freshman CJ Spiller are also weapons that Clemson could put to use out of the backfield.
Some writers and experts would like to put a question mark next to Clemson’s wide receivers, but this writer will put a period. Aaron Kelly and Chansi Stuckey return to give Clemson two proven threats in the passing game, who are more capable of building up big yards after the catch.
Rendrick Taylor will be used in the passing game this year, and with his size and soft hands, it could defensive coordinators scratching their head at night. Tyler Grisham may be the forgotten man of the group. Grisham runs excellent routes, he has great hands, plus he is athletic enough to make defenders miss. If Grisham is on the field and a defense sleeps on him, it could be a big mistake.
Freshmen Jacoby Ford, Jeffrey Ogren, and Kendrick Johnson could make their presence felt, but this group is not without talent.
Thomas Hunter returns at tight end. Hunter was a reliable threat in the passing game last season, and he should be steady once again in 2006. Akeem Robinson, Durrell Barry, and Paul Muse give Clemson a deep and talented group at tight end.
Excellent recruiting and evaluation have allowed Clemson to bring in some dangerous weapons on offense. It is a big reason, why Whitehurst’s shoes will be a little easier to fill.