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Gridiron’s Freshmen Class Opens Practice

August 7, 1998

CLEMSON, SC — Head Coach Tommy West welcomed 25 freshmen to practice on Tuesday morning, the first day of practice for the Tiger newcomers. West had 22 scholarship players and three walk-ons on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center for a pair of practices just under two hours in length.

The freshmen will practice twice on Saturday and once on Sunday afternoon before the veterans report on Sunday evening. The first day of practice for the entire team will be next Tuesday.

“Physically, this class is ahead of any other since I have been at Clemson, perhaps twice as good as any other class,” said West when examining various tests his newcomers have posted. “They really worked hard over the summer and it showed today. We had nine players post a vertical jump over 29 inches, eight players had at least 13 reps of 225 pounds and their body fat percentages were outstanding.”

Three players had 22 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, the equivalent of bench pressing over 400 pounds. The three included linemen Gary Byrd and Brady Washburn, and 185-pound quarterback Joe Don Reames. The native of Seneca and Seneca High School’s bench press stats were a record for a Clemson quarterback, regardless of class.

Braxton K. Williams, whose father was a letterman on Clemson’s National Championship team of 1981, and Bryant McNeal, a 6-5 linebacker, had the highest vertical jump at 31 1/2″. Jackie Robinson had the lowest body fat percentage at 5.5 percent.

“It was great to be out here today,” said West. “The weather was perfect, it was cool day. The top freshman class we have had as far as being in shape, had the easiest first day when it comes to weather.

“I can’t say right now who or how many of these players figure to contribute this season. It would be unfair to give names at this point. We won’t know much until after the third or fourth day in pads. But, the offensive line probably is the position on this team that might have the best opportunity for someone to contribute from this class.”

West said that three walk-ons had joined the program as freshmen. The three are Anthony Lazzara, a punter from St. Petersburg, FL; Henry Owen, a snapper from Clover, SC and Chris Nicholson, a linebacker from McDonough, GA.