Today we look at the tight end situation in the Clemson program.
Bobby Williamson is listed as the starter here but we believe that could change when camp begins. Ben Hall (6-5, 264) should re-emerge as the starting tight end for the Tigers this season. Last year Hall was not the starter because of his off-season conditioning and he was not dedicated to his future. That has changed. Clemson running back Burton Burns said, "I am so proud of Ben Hall. He is totally committed to this team. He is a leader now. You would not believe his attitude. You also would not believe how he looks. He is 6-5 and 264 and runs better than ever. That boy is going to make it in the NFL."
Hall is now the ultimate tight end. Now that he has regained his conditioning he is a dual threat. We think Hall can continue to improve as a blocker but his skills as a receiver will get him to the next level. Hall has always been a tight end that can stretch the field vertically. We saw that in Williams-Brice last season. But we think he can establish himself as a third-down target in the underneath passing game also. We think Hall is a difficult match-up for defenses. Look for Hall to have a fantastic season in 2004.
The Tigers would like to get the tight end more involved in the passing game but the key here is the development of the offensive tackles and their pass protection. If the Tigers have to max protect then the tight end is not involved in the passing game.
Williamson (6-3, 250) did nothing to lose his job. In fact he too has gotten bigger and stronger. We think Williamson is one of the best tight ends in the ACC and the Tigers will have the luxury of a fantastic two-tight end set. He is the best blocking tight end on campus and is a very reliable receiver. The junior has been a pleasant surprise at Clemson.
Zach Green (6-6, 255) benefited last season from a red shirt year. He got bigger and stronger last season. Because of his nice frame there is some talk about Green moving inside in the future. Barring injury and because of depth there may not be a lot of snaps available for Green in 2004.
The Tigers signed a couple of players that are listed as tight ends/defensive ends last February. Xavier Littleberry (6-6, 240) of Camden Military is a late find but a very athletic looking prospect. The staff loved the way he moved in his 6-6 frame. We think there is a very good possibility that Littleberry could start his career as a defensive end.
Akeem Robinson (6-5, 255) of Miami, FL turned down Florida on signing day and inked with the Tigers. Robinson may turn out to be one of the top five players in this Clemson class. He has a terrific body and plays extremely hard. Robinson's playoff effort was top notch last season. We also think he could start his Clemson career on the defensive line.
The Recruiting Board
Paul Muse (6-5, 245) of Jacksonville, FL is one of the top tight ends the Tigers have offered. This is a talented prospect that should see his numbers increase in 2004. Muse has been to Clemson a couple of times already for unofficial visits. He has been offered by Clemson, Auburn and Central Florida and also lists Florida and Florida State as his favorites. Unless the Gators and Seminoles offer we think this will be a Clemson-Auburn battle. Editors Note:Muse committed to Clemson on July 9.
Ted Randolph (6-4, 245) of Davie County High School in Mocksville, NC also has a Clemson offer. Randolph also carries offers from North Carolina, South Carolina and Wake Forest. Some schools mention him as a defensive linemen in the future but most think he will end up at tight end. Randolph says he is wide open among his offers.
Charles Hoke (6-7, 225) of Birmingham, AL is one of the South's top tight ends. Last season caught 57 balls for 950 yards and seven touchdowns. Hoke is another of the new wave tight ends that can stretch the field. He has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. Dabo Swinney has done a terrific job in the state of Alabama but this will be tough to get him away from the in-state powers.
This season we think Clemson will sign a couple more tight end-type bodies but we also think some can end up playing other positions in the future. Look for more tight end-type prospects when we preview defensive ends next week.