Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
August 25, 2003
- The worst-kept secret in Clemson's preseason camp was the surprising return of linebacker Eric Sampson, a full-time starter last fall. Numerous players failed to wait for coach Tommy Bowden's official announcement before revealing the news. The school's original press release last December indicated that Sampson, who was arrested on a marijuana charge a few days after his dismissal from the team, had been permanently removed from the program. At Bowden's preseason golf outing, he was asked what the word permanently meant to him. I meant permanently for the spring, Bowden cracked. With the offseason losses of potential starters Brandon Jamison (academics) and Kelvin Morris (academics), Bowden obviously knew the program needed some help at linebacker. Other than John Leake, one of the nation's leading tacklers last fall, the Tigers have very little quality experience at the position. Unfortunately, Sampson showed up for August camp out of shape and had a difficult time working his way back up the depth chart.
- To the surprise of many, Clemson's waiver request for one-time prep All-American wide receiver Roscoe Crosby was accepted by the ACC and the NCAA, thus making Crosby eligible this season. The Tigers successfully argued that Crosby, who missed basically the entire 2002-03 academic year, should not be held to the usual satisfactory-progress standards because medical-related circumstances (including major elbow surgery and the traumatic deaths of close friends in a car accident) were responsible for his absence from school. Oddly, Bowden had a less than lukewarm reaction to the eligibility news, which came near the end of preseason workouts. Crosby, who has bounced back and forth between Clemson and the Kansas City Royals organization since signing a big-money baseball deal out of high school in 2001, apparently is having a difficult time deciding which sport he wants to play. If he earns substantial playing time this fall at the most crowded position on the roster, especially after missing all of spring practice and most of August camp, it will be interesting to see how his return affects team chemistry.
- One of the biggest questions surrounding camp was the I formation and how
much it will be used this season. Bowden wasn't saying, but most observers
expect the Tigers to use the I
only in short-yardage and goal-line situations. With tailback Yusef Kelly struggling because of weight issues and a pulled groin he also left camp, to Bowden's chagrin, to spend time with his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend fullback Chad Jasmin emerged as Clemson's best back in short-yardage situations.
- Will Ben Hall and Todd McClinton ever live up to the hype? McClinton was considered a can't-miss tight end out of high school. Now he's a struggling defensive tackle. He has the physical tools to play the position, but he has yet to produce. Because of mysterious seizures and fainting spells, which popped up again in August, McClinton has yet to be cleared to play. Hall skipped spring practice, reportedly because he was having some personal problems. Insiders said he was mainly upset because he was not No. 1 on the depth chart at tight end. The coaches said he must improve his blocking to become a major factor.
- Former walk-on Tommy Sharpe continues to hold on to the center position. He added almost 20 pounds in the offseason and now tips the scales at more than 270 pounds. Sharpe is being pushed by redshirt freshman Dustin Fry, who is still learning the position but has plenty of strength at his disposal. During one workout last year, Fry bench pressed 225 pounds 29 consecutive times.