WR Kevin Youngblood

2002 Statistics

Coach: Tommy Bowden
29-20, 4 years
2002 Record: 7-6
at Georgia LOST 28-31
at Florida State LOST 31-48
at Virginia LOST 17-22
at Duke WON 34-31
at North Carolina WON 42-12
Texas Tech LOST 15-55

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

The Clemson Tigers and Head Coach Tommy Bowden face a pivotal season. Two mediocre records in a row (7-5 in 2001, 7-6 in 2002) have led to a growing level of frustration among the Tiger faithful. That frustration turned into anger and embarrassment following Clemson's humiliating 55-15 loss to Texas Tech in the 2002 Tangerine Bowl.

As several football programs in the ACC have shown marked improvement over the past few seasons (Virginia, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest), Clemson has surprisingly slipped back to the middle of the pack. Both trends should continue this season, leaving the possibility of slipping even lower than their 2002 fourth place tie in the ACC.

With their disinterest in the Tangerine Bowl appearance, Clemson fans showed that a six-loss season just won't cut it. Facing tough road games at Maryland, NC State, and South Carolina, and with visits from highly regarded Georgia, Virginia, and Florida State, it is difficult to see any less than six losses in the cards, again.

Through his time at Clemson, Bowden has often been stand-offish, arrogant, and aloof to both media and fans alike. That lands him squarely on the hot seat for the upcoming season. With a small frontline (which speaks of recruiting lulls), and weaknesses on both sides of the ball, Tommy will have to win at least eight (or maybe nine) to stay. Neither will happen.

Projected 2003 record: 6-6
CB Justin Miller
QB - 3.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 2 LB - 3
WR - 4.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 2 ..

Passing: Willie Simmons, 244-142-7, 1559 yds., 6 TD's

Rushing: Yusef Kelly, 125 att., 520 yds., 8 TD's

Receiving: Kevin Youngblood, 59 rec., 591 yds., 2 TD's

Scoring: Aaron Hunt, 17-22 FG, 37-38 PAT, 88 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Aaron Hunt, 17-22 FG, 37-38 PAT, 88 pts.

Tackles: John Leake, 169 tot., 81 solo

Sacks: Khaleed Vaughn, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Justin Miller, 8 for 50 yds.

Kickoff returns: Derrick Hamilton, 32 ret., 21.8 avg.

Punt returns: Derrick Hamilton, 35 ret., 10.8 avg.


OFFENSE: Bernard Rambert-TB, Jackie Robinson-WR, J.J. McKelvey-WR, Gary Byrd-OT, Nathan Gillespie-OG, Willie Simmons-QB (transferred)
DEFENSE: Nick Eason-DT, Bryant McNeal-DE, Rodney Thomas-MLB, Brian Mance-CB, Altroy Bodrick-ROV, Eric Meekins-FS, Wynn Kopp-P, Eric Sampson-WLB (dismissed)

written by James Johnson

Tiger Coach Tommy Bowden is looking for significant improvement in offensive production after watching his team stagger to a finish among the bottom third of the nation in both scoring and total offense last season.

Much of the Tigers' hope for improvement will center on the performance of Charlie Whitehurst, the sophomore quarterback who started the final five games. He led the team to three wins, the second most ever by a freshman starting quarterback at Clemson.

Whitehurst, the son of former NFL starting quarterback David Whitehurst, possesses neither fleet feet nor a cannon for an arm. What Coach Bowden feels will enable him (to be at least a solid quarterback in the ACC) is his maturity and decision making ability. Whitehurst's predecessor, senior back-up Willie Simmons, did not frequently demonstrate these two traits. Now, Simmons has decided to transfer, leaving the reigns solely in Charlie's hands entering the fall.

Clemson's receiving corps should be bolstered by the return of Roscoe Crosby. After showing promise in his freshman year (27 catches, 465 yards, 4 TD), he sat out last season after undergoing "Tommy John surgery". Crosby also plays baseball in the Kansas City Royals' farm system, and will resume that part of his career this spring.

Crosby's speed, explosiveness, and maturity (having played a professional sport) should help an offense that showed little of these last season. Clemson's top returning receivers, senior Kevin Youngblood (59 catches, 591 yards, 2 TD) and junior Derrick Hamilton (52 catches, 602 yards, 2 TD) will reach their potential with steadier quarterback play and Crosby's ability to stretch a defense.

Clemson's ground game (as in ground … to a halt) needs feature back Yusef Kelly (6'0", 225 lb. junior) to develop into a consistent workhorse after sharing the running load. Kelly averaged a solid 4.2 yards per carry last season, but the team could manage only a pitiful 3.6 yards per attempt. The days of Woody Dantzler are a distant memory. The Tigers will have to find a way to move the ball on the ground in a more traditional manner despite lacking a breakaway threat in the backfield.

The improvement of Clemson's offensive line will be a key factor in what level of success the team as a whole enjoys this year. Coach Bowden came to regret red-shirting all of his freshman linemen in 2002 (after losing two starters to season ending leg injuries). Returning starters Cedric Johnson, Tommy Sharpe, and Gregory Walker give Clemson an experienced interior line. Johnson's (318 lbs.) and Walker's (330 lbs.) size enables the Tigers to focus on a strong inside running game and control the ball (better than last season). Those red-shirted freshmen will add valuable depth.


WR/KR Derrick Hamilton


Returning Starters in bold
QB Charlie Whitehurst-So ..
TB Yusef Kelly-Jr Kyle Browning-So / Chad Jasmin-Sr (FB)
WR Kevin Youngblood-Sr Michael Collins-So
WR Derrick Hamilton-Jr Kelvin Grant-Fr
WR Airese Currie-Jr Ronnie Thomas-Jr
TE Bobby Williamson-So Kevin Burnette-Sr
OT William Henry-Sr Roman Fry-Fr
OG Cedric Johnson-Jr Jermyn Chester-Sr
C Tommy Sharpe-Jr Dustin Fry-Fr
OG Chip Myrick-So Nathan Bennett-Fr
OT Gregory Walker-Sr Brad Lee-Fr
K Aaron Hunt-Sr ..



written by James Johnson

The Tigers' defense ended last season like a train wreck in their 55-15 Tangerine Bowl loss to Texas Tech. Despite that embarrassment, Clemson's defense did show improvement in their first year under defensive coordinator John Lovett.

Lovett installed a different scheme, employing more zone packages than man-to-man defense. This resulted in improved pass coverage (17th in the nation before the Bowl) and fewer big plays by the opposition.

The unquestioned star of this Tiger defense is CB Justin Miller, one of the most exciting players to enter the program in several years. Miller, a true freshman, set a school record and led the ACC with eight INTs last year despite starting only the last eight games. Miller does more than cover receivers (team high 12 tackles against NC State.)

The secondary (21 INTs, 10th in I-A) should again be the strength of the defense next season, particularly once CB Toure Francis and SS Ronny Delusme recover from ACL injuries.

Teams were able to push the undersized Clemson defense around the field with some regularity last season, particularly offenses featuring a big running back. The Tigers gave up 158.2 yds/game (60th in I-A) on the ground and recovered only nine fumbles in 13 games. Clemson did, however, play strong red-zone defense. This shows that in a condensed field, this unit exhibits potential.

Clemson enters next season with only one defensive end listed at over 240 pounds, senior Khaleed Vaughn (260 lbs.). Vaughn led the team with 18 quarterback pressures and recorded four sacks. None of the returning linebackers on the two-deep depth chart are listed at more than 225 pounds. Despite a size disadvantage, returning senior John Leake (6'1", 225 lbs.) finished seventh in the nation last season with an impressive total of 169 tackles. A boost to the defensive effort will be recently hired assistant coach David Blackwell. As assistant at Pittsburgh, he worked with Walt Harris to help mold one of the nation's tougher units. His duties have not yet been defined, but Coach Bowden is eagerly anticipating a positive contribution.

Beyond John Leake, there does not appear to be many playmakers in the Tigers' front seven. With a lack of pass rushers or linebackers to stuff the run, Clemson's secondary will be overwhelmed as they try to cover receivers while being essential to stopping the opponent's ground attack.


LB John Leake


Returning Starters in bold
DE Khaleed Vaughn-Sr Vontrell Jamison-Jr
DT Donnell Washington-Jr Eric Coleman-Jr
DT DeJuan Polk-Sr Todd McClinton-Sr
DE J.J. Howard-Sr Maurice Fountain-Jr
SLB John Leake-Sr Anthony Waters-Fr
MLB Leroy Hill-Jr Roosevelt Nelson-So
WLB Kelvin Morris-Sr Brian Carr-Jr
CB Justin Miller-So Ryan Hemby-Sr
CB Tye Hill-So Buddy Williams-Fr
ROV Jamaal Fudge-So Gerald McCloud-Fr
FS Travis Pugh-So Tavaughn Monts-Jr
P Cole Chason-Fr ..




Special teams have been something of a mixed bag for the Tigers under Bobby Bowden. Last season, Justin Miller led the ACC in kickoff returns, averaging 35 yards on 13 attempts. Derrick Hamilton led the ACC in all-purpose yardage (10 yds/punt return, 21.6 yd/KO return). Both will pick up right where they left off in December.

Place kicker Aaron Hunt, a returning senior, connected on 17-21 FGAs last season and missed only one PAT. The punting game, however, was one of the worst in the nation (net 30 yds/punt). A new punter will take over the kicking duties this season. Improved kick distance and return coverage will take pressure off the defense. Since Bowden continues his refusal to hire a special teams coach, any failure in this area lands squarely at his feet.