Aug. 25, 1998
CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson Head Coach Tommy West announced a change on his defensive depth chart on Tuesday. The Tigers mentor moved second-team outside linebacker O.J. Childress to first-team inside linebacker. Childress will join classmate Chris Jones as the starting inside linebackers on Clemson’s defense as they lineup for a scrimmage in Death Valley on Wednesday.
“This is a major move,” said West. “O.J. has had a tremendous camp. He has played inside before and knows the position. This was not a case that we were upset with the other players. O.J. has just played so well that we have to find a spot for him on the field.”
Childress is listed as the starting inside linebacker along with Chris Jones. Jones is backed up by freshman Keith Adams, while Childress is backed up by Kenzi Ross and Harold Means. Rahim Abdullah is the starter at outside linebacker and is backed up by senior Howard Bartley, who was the starter at that position in 1996.
The Tigers returned to practice on Tuesday after two days away from work on the practice fields. They spent Sunday in film sessions and Monday is their day off due to late academic classes.
Clemson will hold a scrimmage in Memorial Stadium on Wednesday and the session will be open to the public. It will start at 4:30 PM and will be the final open practice of the year for Clemson fans. West will close the practices starting Thursday as his team gets ready for its September 5 opener against Furman.
“I was excited about today’s practice,” said West. “We really got something out of it. This is the week we have to improve in every way from offense to defense to special teams. Next week we will be getting into the game preparation.
“Rod Gardner made some outstanding plays today. He looked like a big time receiver today. Mal Lawyer also has had a good camp and looked good today. I think this will be an offense that spreads the ball around to the receivers this year.
West reported that running backs Javis Austin and Travis Zachery were both healthy on Tuesday and ran well. Matt Bailey was back in action for the first time in over a week after battling a hamstring injury. Matt Butler also was back after missing a few days with a sprained ankle. Brian Wofford was better, but still not full strength as he recovers from a sprained foot. DaMonte McKenzie also missed the practice due to a knee sprain, but West is optimistic he will be ready next week.
Antwan Edwards missed the practice with a hyper-extended knee, an injury he suffered in the scrimmage last Saturday. It is not serious and he should be ready for the Furman game.
West also said there was no word on the status of Akil Smith and Warren Lott. Both are awaiting clearance to play from an academic standpoint.
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