April 21, 2003
Spring 2003 OverviewThe PooP
In Tommy West's first four seasons as Clemson's head coach, his teams were 20-12 in the ACC and 27-20 overall. In Tommy Bowden's first four seasons as the Tigers' leading man, they went 19-11 in the conference and 29-20 overall. Pretty similar, eh? West's disastrous fifth season (3-8, 1-7 in 1998) ended with his dismissal, and a similar effort by Bowden this fall probably would result in another change at the top. After .500 league records and third-tier bowls in 2001 (7-5, 4-4) and 2002 (7-6, 4-4), the orange-clad faithful expect more much more and they're running out of patience. A big jump this fall won't be easy.
Probable 2003 Starters
* returning starter
+ injured/missed spring drills
Coming On Strong
The receiving corps is loaded with talent and depth, including three returning starters, a few reliable veterans and several promising youngsters. The defensive line finally has a two-deep rotation that represents a reliable combination of talent and experience. Rock-solid returning starters: WR Airese Currie, WR Derrick Hamilton, LB John Leake, CB Justin Miller, DT Donnell Washington, WR Kevin Youngblood. Also looking good: DE Gaines Adams, RB Duane Coleman, RV Jamaal Fudge, WR Kelvin Grant, LB Leroy Hill, RB Reggie Merriweather, QB Charlie Whitehurst.
Cause For Concern?
Thanks to a devastating combination of injuries, recruiting mistakes and attrition, the offensive line remains a potential disaster area. Across the front, there's a walk-on and/or a freshman somewhere on the two-deep at all five positions. Among the returnees, there's not a single dominant blocker, and the Tigers still must overcome their short-yardage struggles. Also: offensive toughness, depth at linebacker, inexperience in secondary, corner opposite Miller, kicker, punter.
On The Sidelines
The following players missed all or most of spring drills: OL Tim DeBeer (ankle), RV Ronnie Delusme (knee), WR Tony Elliott, CB Toure Francis (knee/no contact), LB Brandon Jamison (academics), LB Kelvin Morris (knee), DE Khaleed Vaughn (knee). WR Airese Currie and CB Tye Hill split time between football and track.
The following scholarship athletes left the program in the past 12-18 months with eligibility remaining: OL Nick Black (medical), OL Jermyn Chester (medical), WR Roscoe Crosby (baseball), TE Ben Hall (left team), DB Charles Harper, CB Terrance Huey (medical/before 2002 season), LB Brandon Jamison (academics/may return), OL Mark Jetton (transfer/Elon), CB Kevin Johnson (dismissed), LB Eric Sampson (dismissed).