Originally created 03/03/98

Future superstars sought by Clemson



CLEMSON, S.C. -- Wanted: big play guys. Must remind coaches of longtime stars like quarterback Nealon Greene, tailback Raymond Priester, linebacker Anthony Simmons and receiver Tony Horne.

Candidates began to line up Monday as Clemson's spring football drills got underway.

"This is a really exciting time because we don't know who those (big-play) guys are," Clemson coach Tommy West.

For the first time in West's four years at Clemson, his foundation of record-setting players is gone. While stars Greene, Priester and Horne finished their eligibility, Simmons, a junior, jumped to the NFL.

And don't forget about all-Atlantic Coast Conference offensive lineman Jim Bundren and Glenn Rountree.

So why is West smiling?

"It creates an enthusiasm because we as coaches have to find a way for those big-play guys to get the ball," he said.

The Tigers continue workouts through the spring game on April 4 at Death Valley.

For 15 practices, a new group -- who West expects to take over for familiar names -- will begin to emerge.

Quarterback will be a fight between Brandon Streeter, Woodrow Dantzler, Jason Flanders and Slade Nagle.

Travis Zachery, Javis Austin and Dymon Adams are competing at tailback.

Horne's spot could be filled by Rod Gardner or Mal Lawyer, both who saw action last year.

Offensive lineman Matt Butler and Brent Banasiewicz could take over the left side for Bundren and Rountree.

And Chris Jones or Harold Means could break out as Simmons' replacement.

"I don't think we'll see a dropoff from a talent standpoint," West said. "From an experience standpoint, you will."

West, like every other football coach in the spring, is giddy about his team. The seven-week conditioning program, begun shortly after Clemson's 21-17 Peach Bowl loss to Auburn, made his players faster and stronger.

Priester, of Allendale, S.C., may be Clemson's all-time leading rusher with almost 4,000 yards, but Zachery, Austin and Adams are swifter, sweep runners whose speed should snap opponents' ankles, West said.

Greene holds 30 passing records, but West thinks Clemson can refine its throwing game since all candidates at that spot have spent a year learning under offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.

West says it's not essential he has starters come out of spring drills. "Although if one does it means he stepped up to win the job and that's not bad," he said.

The offensive line worries West the most. The Tigers gained only 152.7 yards a game last year -- one of its lowest totals in years -- and far from the grind-it-out days of West's Clemson mentor, Danny Ford.

West will start with veterans Corey Hulsey, Holland Postell and Jason Gamble, then look to Banasiewicz, Butler and Kyle Young to add depth.

West had no immediate position changes at the start. Receiver Marcus Martin has withdrawn from school, the coach said, to deal with personal problems.

Martin is expected to attend summer school to maintain his eligibility, West said.