RB James Davis (PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Crammer)

2006 Statistics

Coach: Tommy Bowden
60-38, 8 years
2006 Record: 8-5
at Boston College LOST 33-34 (2OT)
at Florida State WON 27-20
at Wake Forest WON 27-17
vs. Temple WON 63-9
at Virginia Tech LOST 7-24
NC State WON 20-14
Kentucky LOST 20-28

2006 Final Rankings
AP2-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2007 Outlook

After dropping four of their last five games last season and squandering a huge lead in the Atlantic division, Tommy Bowden still has much to prove. Beating his father, twice in a row now, was the big hurdle prior to 2005. But beating the struggling Noles evidently took Clemson only so far in the conference currently with the most parity. Like FSU, Miami or Virginia Tech, the Tigers are stacked with enough talent to rule its half of the ACC. The main offensive dilemmas surround the line and the QB competition, but any steps back with either will soon give way to huge strides amongst both. The running game, getting back to last year’s levels, will signal the Tigers are again ready to challenge the ACC big boys. The defense looks awesome – only issues at corner can affect its dominance. Keep an eye on Gaines Adams’ replacement Ricky Sapp, easily the physical specimen Adams is with the same huge upside. Bowdens’ stellar recruiting efforts have these Tigers loaded with as much promise as ever. The schedule has most of the ACC heavyweights coming into Death Valley, and only trips to Atlanta and Columbia look like they can detract prognosticators from drooling all over Bowden’s Boys. But until they find the right field general, we will keep a wait-and-see attitude for this over-talented team.

Projected 2007 record: 6-6
QB - 2.5 DL - 4
RB - 5 LB - 4.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Cullen Harper, 14-20-0, 155 yds., 2 TD

Rushing: James Davis, 203 att., 1187 yds., 17 TD

Receiving: Aaron Kelly, 30 rec., 355 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: James Davis, 17 TD, 102 pts.

Jimmy Maners, 1 punt, 42.0 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Nick Watkins, 94 tot., 55 solo

Sacks: Ricky Sapp, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Crezdon Butler, 3 for 35 yds.; Nick Watkins, 3 for 26 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Jacoby Ford, 13 ret., 32.8 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns:
Jacoby Ford, 15 ret., 11.1 avg., 1 TD


DB Michael Hamlin (PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Crammer)
OFFENSE: Will Proctor-QB, Reggie Merriweather-RB, Chansi Stuckey-WR, Thomas Hunter-TE, Roman Fry-OG, Dustin Fry-C, Nathan Bennett-OG, Marion Dukes-OT, Jad Dean-K
DEFENSE: Gaines Adams-DE, Anthony Waters-MLB, Maurice Nelson-SLB, Duane Coleman-CB, Cole Chason-P, C.J. Gaddis-CB (NFL)

Though the competition for the QB slot will grab most headlines, it is the revampings along the line that will also define the 2007 Tigers. Junior Cullen Harper is tentatively atop the depth chart due to being the lone candidate with real game experience, but classmates Tribble Reese and Michael Wade join five-star recruit Willy Korn (whom many have already anointed as the next starter) as dual-threat alternatives who all have a shot. Whoever wins will have earned the start, and QB coach/OC Rob Spence assures a honed hurler will be ready by September. Luckily, the only regular starting lineman back for the new QB is first-team all-conference senior LT Barry Richardson, a monster who is likely to earn all-American honors by season’s end. Ex-DT Chris McDuffie saw some starts at left guard, but otherwise, “There will be some drop-off” according to line coach Brad Scott, though he likes his prospects. RB James Davis, also all-ACC first-team, teams with similarly-sized five-star sophomore C.J. Spiller to form one of the nation’s best RB duos (finished 5th in the nation for team rushing). Depth here means the well-rounded backs are more than ready once the line steps up. The biggest surprise may be the reemergence of heady TE Akeem Robinson, a true freak of nature who can do things most guys his size can’t. Juniors Aaron Kelly and Rendrick Taylor also bring size to the possible snarlers, and either is a prime candidate to become the new deep threat here. Classmate Tyler Grisham rounds out the role players who make Bowden’s three- and four-receiver sets work. The Tiger offense seemingly went south for the last five games (averaged 18 points in that span), so the issues at QB and along the line only add to the notion that Clemson has much to prove before again being a juggernaut that is considered the division favorite.


OT Barry Richardson (PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Crammer)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Cullen Harper-Jr (6-4, 215) Willy Korn-Fr (6-2, 200)
Tribble Reese-Jr (6-4, 205)
FB Alex Pearson-Jr (6-1, 245) ..
RB James Davis-Jr (5-11, 205) C.J. Spiller-So (5-11, 190)
WR Aaron Kelly-Jr (6-5, 180) Xavier Dye-Fr (6-4, 195)
WR Tyler Grisham-Jr (5-11, 180) Rendrick Taylor-Jr (6-2, 230)
WR Jacoby Ford-So (5-9, 180) La'Donte Harris-Sr (5-11, 180)
TE Akeem Robinson-Jr (6-5, 260) Michael Palmer-So (6-5, 230)
OT Barry Richardson-Sr (6-7, 320) Chris Hairston-Fr (6-6, 310)
OG Chris McDuffie-Sr (6-5, 330) Bobby Hutchinson-Jr (6-3, 305)
C Barry Humphries-So (6-3, 280) Ben Ramsey-So (6-4, 270)
OG Brandon Pilgrim-Sr (6-6, 300) Thomas Austin-So (6-4, 305)
OT Christian Capote-Sr (6-4, 295) Cory Lambert-So (6-6, 300)
K Mark Buchholz-Jr (6-1, 205) Richard Jackson-Fr (5-11, 185)



Goodbye Gaines Adams, hello Ricky Sapp. True sophomore Sapp has the physical tools to become as great as Adams, and as the only new starter along the line, the svelte, quick end will have the leeway to dominate. Insiders Jock McKissic and Dorell Scott do a great job clogging the middle, while fellow junior Phillip Merling gets into backfields as often as Gaines did. Allowing foes 2.9 ypc and only 12 ground scores to again finish in the top 20 for rushing defense is attainable, especially with all of the starting LBs back. Senior OLBs Maurice Nelson and Nick Watkins, as well as former prep hurdle champ Anthony Clay (MLB), all play huge though all are listed at or under 225lbs. (developed depth amongst the corps adds girth). Clay is out of school until further notice, but he is expected back by fall. Especially strong is the corps’ underneath coverage. The entire front seven shouldn’t miss a beat. Neither should the sophomore corners, both of who saw plenty of action in ’06 as reserves to prove they can secure the sidelines in any situation and are ready for the permanent start here. Junior free safety Chris Clemons and “CAT” classmate Mike Hamlin can assist from their deep middle slots. Look for future star and true frosh DeAndre McDaniel as co-starter at “CAT” and other DB slots to have major impact after his huge spring. Along with senior backup Roy Walker, this DB crew smacks ball-carriers and recovers well in play-action. Improving on the Tiger’s 13th-ranking for total defense isn’t an outrageous prediction given the eight returning starters, developed depth and incredible recruiting efforts recently procured. Starting at home against FSU means we will see real quickly whether the Tiger’s D can get its killer instinct back after allowing 28 and 31 points in their last two ’06 tilts.


LB Nick Watkins (PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Crammer)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Phillip Merling-Jr (6-5, 270) Jamie Cumbie-So (6-7, 265)
NG Dorell Scott-Jr (6-4, 305) Antwon Murchison-So (6-4, 275)
DT Rashaad Jackson-Jr (6-3, 290) Jock McKissic-Jr (6-6, 295)
DE Ricky Sapp-So (6-4, 220) Kwam Williams-Sr (6-3, 245)
SLB Tramaine Billie-Sr (6-1, 210) Jeremy Campbell-So (6-2, 215)
MLB Antonio Clay-Jr (6-0, 220) Cortney Vincent-Jr (6-1, 235)
WLB Nick Watkins-Sr (6-2, 220) Kavell Conner-So (6-2, 230)
CB Chris Chancellor-So (5-9, 170) Haydrian Lewis-Jr (5-11, 185)
CB Crezdon Butler-So (6-0, 185) Byron Maxwell-Fr (6-0, 195)
CAT Michael Hamlin-Jr (6-3, 200) DeAndre McDaniel-Fr (6-0, 190)
FS Chris Clemons-Jr (6-1, 205) Chris Russell-Sr (6-1, 210)
P Jimmy Maners-Jr (6-1, 190) Richard Jackson-Fr (5-11, 185)




Big-footed Greer-native Richard Jackson, the state’s record-holder for longest prep field goal at 64 yards (ESPN play of the week), is the heir-apparent for both kicking slots, but punter Jimmy Maners still has a shot after both slots were vacated. As a true frosh, Jacoby Ford would have led the nation in kick returns if he had run back just three more (darn defense keeping foes from scoring!!!) He handles both return jobs well, and speedy depth amongst the unprovens means Clemson can return one to the house anytime.