FIFTH-YEAR QBWILL PROCTOR IS UNPROVEN, BUT HIS MOBILITY SHOULD CURE THE TIGERS' RED-ZONEWOES
2005 RECORD 8-4(4-4 in ACC Atlantic)
KEY RETURNEES RBJames Davis (Soph.) Tied a school freshman record at the end of last season byreeling off four 100-yard games LG Roman Fry (Sr.) The 6'4" 300-pounderlined up at center, guard and tackle in '05 MLB Anthony Waters (Sr.) Finishedthird in the ACC in tackles per game
BIG MAN ON CAMPUSWide receiver Chansi Stuckey is one of the ACC's most lethal playmakers. Aformer backup quarterback he led the conference in receptions per game (5.33)last season. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior is the first Tiger since 1950 toproduce a touchdown by passing, rushing, receiving and returning a punt.
For four yearsWill Proctor waited to take his turn at quarterback. He ran the Tigers' scoutteam, charted more plays than he cares to remember and filled in at widereceiver. He played sideline catch with starter Charlie Whitehurst and brokedown countless hours of film. Now that Whitehurst has moved on to the NFL's SanDiego Chargers, the wait is over for Proctor, a fifth-year senior who hasthrown 34 passes and four touchdowns in 12 games. It's not a stretch to saythat among quarterbacks without full-time starting experience, he's moreexperienced than anyone else in the country.
"I realizethat this is my only year to start," says the 6'2", 210-pound Proctor."My job will be to manage the game and put the ball in the hands of ourplaymakers. If I can do that, we'll have a successful season."
Throughout springpractice offensive coordinator Rob Spence reminded Proctor to rely on hissupporting cast, which is one of the most talented in the ACC. James Davis, a5'11" 210-pounder, was the conference's rookie of the year last season,when he rushed for 879 yards and nine touchdowns, and wide receivers ChansiStuckey and Rendrick Taylor are both home run threats. The starting offensiveline also returns intact from a team whose four defeats last year were by atotal of 14 points.
"Obviously myNumber 1 concern right now is our quarterback," says coach Tommy Bowden,"but Will's got a really good feel for the game. He hasn't faced too manylive bullets yet, but he's very, very ready."
Though Proctordoesn't possess the arm strength of Whitehurst, he's one of the team's topathletes and will be a threat to scramble every time he drops back to pass,which should help Clemson improve its productivity in the red zone. Behind theslow-footed Whitehurst last season, the Tigers had a first down on 47possessions inside their opponents' 20-yard line; on 20 of those drives Clemsonfailed to reach the end zone. "If I have to," says Proctor, "I canmake plays with my feet."
He'll be underpressure quickly to do just that. After opening at home against FloridaAtlantic on Sept. 2, the Tigers go on the road to face conference rivals BostonCollege and No. 12 Florida State. This much is certain: After those twodifficult September games, Proctor will know if the wait was worth it.
TRAVIS BELL/SIDELINE CAROLINA ( PROCTOR)