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Clemson Opens Fall Practice

Aug. 6, 2004

Clemson, SC – Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden welcomed 105 players to the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center on Friday afternoon, the first of 29 preseason practices for his sixth Clemson team. The Tigers are preparing for their September 4 season opener at home against Wake Forest.

The Tigers worked in shorts and helmets for the first day, attire mandated by the NCAA. This was the first of three days of practice in either shorts or shells. The Tigers won’t put on the full uniform until Tuesday, August 10.

Clemson will practice again on Saturday afternoon, then break for Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday afternoon. All practices are closed to the public.

“It was a good first day of practice,” said Bowden. “We have a good carry over when it comes to experience because 56 lettermen are back (tied for the most returning lettermen in Clemson history). I thought the quarterbacks threw well, especially early in the day. I was impressed with the two freshman quarterbacks, Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese. I was also impressed with Akeem Robinson (who lined up at offensive tackle on Friday).

“Then the defense started to force some turnovers. We will stress that in the preseason, that is an area we are looking for improvement. Tye Hill (cornerback) had two interceptions when we were in skeleton drill. Nick Watkins and Brandon Nolen also came up with turnovers.”

Nolen was a major position change for the first day. A red-shirted running back during his first-year freshman season of 2003, he moved to the secondary for the first day of fall practice as a roverback.

There were two injuries during the first day of practice. Wide receiver Curtis Baham, a junior from New Orleans, suffered a shoulder injury. He should return by Monday. Baham ranked sixth on the team in receptions last year with 22, but he had at least one catch in each of the last eight games.

Defensive back Roy Walker re-injured an existing knee injury and could be lost for the season. He originally suffered the injury while working out in the summer. Walker, a red-shirt freshman from Oglethorpe, GA, had been a reserve free safety entering the fall.

There was an overall shakeup on the second line of defense in the secondary. Tavaghn Monts will be Travis Pugh’s backup at free safety. Tramaine Billie moved from WHIP linebacker to roverback behind Jamaal Fudge, and Robert Reese moved from cornerback to WHIP behind Eric Sampson.

“The first day is always exciting because everyone has been preparing all summer. Later in the preseason is when you truly tell about a team’s attitude. But we are off to a good start. The attitude was great all summer, I could tell that from the way our strength coaches talked about the team’s work eithic.”