What you need to know ...
The offense should impressive despite the loss of
longtime starting quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. It all starts up
front with a senior dominated line with all five starters
returning and plenty of depth ready to fill in the holes. The
receiving corps is strong led by Chansi Stuckey and Aaron Kelly,
and the backfield is among the best in the ACC with James Davis
and Reggie Merriweather just two of the team's very good backs.
Will Proctor isn't going to throw like Whitehurst, but he'll run
and be more of an all-around playmaker. Expect the offense
to run more than it did last year.
Passing: Will Proctor
18-31, 281 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: James Davis
117 carries, 879 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Chansi Stuckey
64 catches, 770 yds, 4 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB James Davis
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Demerick
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Barry Richardson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis, 2) WR Chansi
Stuckey, 3) C Dustin Fry
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
While it might be tough to replace the passing, production
and leadership of Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson might even be in
an even better situation going into this year. Will Proctor and his mobility gives the offense more
options than it had under Whitehurst. He's a senior veteran who
won't need any time to get his feet wet. There are two good
prospects waiting in the wings in Cullen Harper and Tribble
Reese who'll get plenty of practice time to be groomed for
The key to the unit: Will Proctor has to hover around
the 60% completion mark and be used as a runner. Cullen Harper
and Tribble Reese need some meaningful playing time to be ready
for next year.
Quarterback Rating: 7
- Will Proctor, Sr. - 18-31, 281 yds, 58%, 3 TD, 14
carries, 49 yds, 1 TD
Proctor isn't going to be Charlie Whitehurst, but he's an
experienced, smart passer with great mobility and a good
knowledge of the offense. He got a chance to shine last season
filling in for Whitehurst in the win over Duke completing 13 of
21 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he
ran well. While Whitehurst was a big-armed passer, Proctor is
more of a precision thrower with the quickness to make things
happen with his legs. He'll be more than solid in keeping the
- Cullen Harper, Soph. - 1-2, 15 yds
A big, strong quarterback more in the Charlie Whitehurst mold
than Will Proctor, Harper has bulked up over the last year to be
more of a presence as a pro style passer. This season will be
critical, at least in practices, to see if he'll be ready to
take over next season.
- Tribble Reese, Soph.
Reese has the best all-around combination of skills among the
three quarterbacks. He's 6-4, 200 pounds and can run. He's very
smart earning ACC All-Academic honors and should have the
offense own as the season goes on. He'll battle with Cullen
Harper all year for the number two job.
Is this the ACC's best backfield? If
not, it's close with three great options and a true freshman in
C.J. Spiller that might turn out to be the best of the bunch.
James Davis is a 1,000-yard back waiting to happen with the
hands and moves to do everything for the offense, while Reggie
Merriweather is a productive, experienced number two back who
can handle the starting job if needed. Demerick Chancellor is
one of the team's fastest players and should be used as a big
play back throughout the year. Alex Pearson is a big blocking
fullback who should be a fine replacement for Cliff Harrell.
The key to the unit: Finding enough work for all the
talent. A good rotation needs to be developed while not taking
anything away from whoever is running the best on a particular
Running Back Rating: 9.5
- James Davis, Soph. - 165 carries, 879 yds, 5.3 ypc, 9
TD, 19 catches, 157 yds
Davis turned in a fantastic true freshman season leading the
team in rushing despite missing all or part of three games with
a wrist injury. He can do a little of everything well with the
speed and quickness to bounce to the outside and the power to be
a between-the-tackles runner for tough yards. He also showed
excellent hands as a steady three-catch-a-game receiver. He's an
every down back who should hit the 1,000-yard mark if he can
- Fullback Alex Pearson, Soph.
Clemson's fullbacks are used for blocking, and Pearson will be
no exception taking over for Cliff Harrell. At 255 pounds, the
former linebacker is very strong and should grow into the role
as the lead man for the running game.
- Reggie Merriweather, Sr. - 149 carries, 715 yds,
4.8 ypc, 7 TD, 8 catches, 49 yds
He's not a huge runner at 5-8 and 215 pounds, but he can pound
the ball with the talent and durability to be the workhorse if
needed. Even with the emergence of James Davis, Merriweather was
effective making the most out of workload and rushing for three
straight 100-yard days when Davis was hurt. He's not nearly as
flashy as Davis and isn't the same receiver, but Clemson can win
- Demerick Chancellor, RFr.
The speed back in the mix, the 6-1, 195-pound redshirt freshman
has sub-4.4 speed and good enough hands to see time at receiver
if needed. He could grow into a dangerous third down back.
- C.J. Spiller, Fr.
Spiller might not see the field this season in an already
crowded backfield, but that doesn't mean he's not ready.
Clemson's top recruit averaged 10.2 yards per carry over the
course of his high school career in Lake Butler, Florida and
could've gone anywhere he wanted. He's a good receiver who can
hit the home run from anywhere on the field.
- Fullback Brent Smith, Sr.
More of a runner than Alex Pearson, the 220-pound senior will
look to come back from a torn ACL that cost him all of last
year. He'll mostly see time on special teams.
This might not be the dominant unit that
recent Clemson teams had, but it's a solid group led by Chansi
Stuckey. While there aren't many typical Tiger speedsters
outside of true freshman Jacoby Ford, it's
an athletic corps that should be solid enough to help make QB
Will Proctor look good. Aaron Kelly is a big number two target
and Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham are emerging inside
playmakers. Four tight ends will rotate to fill the lost
production of Bobby Williamson with seasoned veteran Thomas
Hunter getting the starting nod.
The key to the unit: With the offensive balance
likely to shift towards the running side, the receivers have to
stay focused. The better the group is at downfield blocking, the
more productive the attack will be.
Receiver Rating: 8
- Chansi Stuckey, Sr. - 64 catches, 770 yds, 12 ypc, 4 TD, 13
carries, 78 yds
The former quarterback stayed healthy for a full season and
showed what he could do leading the way in receptions and
turning into a steady big play target. He led the ACC in
receptions per game highlighted by a brilliant 11-catch,
156-yard, two touchdown day in the win over Florida State. He'll
occasionally be used as a runner and could even line up at
quarterback for a play or two to throw defenses a curve ball.
He's not likely to see as many passes because of the change of
quarterback styles, but he should make the most out of his
- Aaron Kelly, Soph. - 47 catches, 575 yds, 12.2 ypc, 2
The 6-5, 190-pound athlete made a huge splash in his freshman
year finishing second on the team in receiving and becoming a
stunningly steady target. His breakout game was against Temple
catching seven passes for 155-yards and a touchdown and caught
at least two passes in every game. Now he has to be more of a
big play deep threat at the X position after coming back from a
spring knee injury.
- Rendrick Taylor, Soph. - 9 catches, 69 yds, 7.7 ypc
Used sparingly throughout last season due to an arm injury, the
6-2, 225 pound sophomore is a strong, physical target who should
be perfect for the inside Z position.
- Tight end Thomas Hunter, Sr. - 13 catches, 120 yds, 9.2
Hunter ended up stepping in and starting half of last year
highlighted by a three-catch game against Colorado. The former
walk-on is a big, veteran target who's a better blocker than a
- Tyler Grisham, Soph. - 10 catches, 101 yds, 10.1
Grisham will push Rendrick Taylor for time at the Z position.
He's a good al-around athlete who can be used as a kick returner
and did a good job of filling in for Chansi Stuckey in the
Champs Sports Bowl catching two passes for 34 yards.
- La'Donte Harris, Jr. - 5 catches, 52 yds, 8.7 ypc, 1 TD
Harris has been on the verge of being a top player for the
offense, but he hasn't been able to break through. He's a quick
receiver with the potential to be a starter, but he'll be a key
reserve behind Chansi Stuckey at the A position.
- Jacoby Ford, Fr.
Expected to be an immediate home run hitter and one of Clemson's
fastest receivers ever, the true freshman is a 4.3 speed demon
who'll be used in every way possible to get the ball in his
hands. He should be a flash of lightning as a kick returner.
- Tight end Akeem Robinson, Soph.
A great blocker, Robinson was originally considered for the
offensive and defensive lines before settling in as a backup
tight end. He's 6-5 and 255 pounds and will be great in two
tight end sets along with Thomas Hunter and Durrell Barry.
The line is very big and very, very experienced with all
five starters returning and several other quality reserves that can step
in without missing a beat. Consistency will be the key needing to be
better in pass protection. Having a mobile quarterback like Will Proctor
will help. It'll be a dominant run blocking unit that should pave the
way for well over 2,000 yards on the ground. Roman Fry earned all-star
honors at left guard last year, and he won't be the only All-ACC
performer this season with tackle Barry Richardson and center Dustin Fry
sure to get attention.
The key to the unit: All the experience has to come
together to dominate. Being a bit stronger in pass protection would be a
plus after allowing 23 sacks
Offensive Line Rating: 8.5
- OT Barry Richardson, Jr.
Richardson's claim to fame has been a near shutdown performance of NC
State's Mario Williams in last year's 31-10 win. He's an imposing 6-7
and 345 pounds with enough talent to be an all-star over the next two
seasons as he becomes more consistent.
- OG Roman Fry, Sr.
The line's most versatile player settled in at left guard where he
earned second-team All-ACC honors despite only getting the starting nod
over the second half of the season. The 6-4, 300-pound senior is the
team's best run blocker and can step in at center and tackle if needed.
- C Dustin Fry, Sr.
Fry has grown into one of the ACC's top centers turning into a steady,
smart quarterback of the front five. He's a huge 325-pound blocker who
should earn all-conference honors.
- OG Nathan Bennett, Sr.
The team's most experienced lineman is back for his third year as the
starter at right guard. The 305-pound senior is a physical run blocker
who's good, but not elite, in pass protection.
- OT Marion Dukes, Sr.
The 6-4, 320-pound senior moves like a much smaller tackle with good,
quick feet. He's a big game performer who steps up against the top
- G Brandon Pilgrim, Jr.
The 6-6, 290-pound junior started in four games at guard and will be a
top reserve after missing all of 2004. He's good enough to push Nathan
Bennett for the starting spot on the right side.
- T Tim DeBeer, Sr.
Good enough to start at most places, the 275-pound senior is a smaller
option at left tackle playing behind the 345-pound Barry Richardson.
He's a quality reserve who'll see plenty of key snaps.
- G Chris McDuffie, Jr.
The junior is 320 -pounds and physical. He's
still learning the job after moving over from the defensive line to
backup Roman Fry on the left side.