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Tim Bourret’s Gator Bowl Blog

Dec. 28, 2008

*It was not a relaxing Sunday afternoon at the (theme) park for the Clemson football team. Dabo Swinney put his team through a two hour practice of f ull contact in full gear in 75 degree temperatures. There were many drills that were first team against first team.

*Clemson coaches might be a little concerned about the flu going around the team. Landon Walker missed Saturday’s practice, but was back on Sunday. Mason Cloy had been slowed by the flu earlier in the week and was bed ridden back at the hotel on Sunday and missed the practice. Cohesiveness in the offensive line is very important as we have seen through this season. Clemson had seven different offensive line combinations over the first nine games and had a 4-5 record in those games. The Tigers started the same offensive line for the last three games and won all three games.

*There has been a lot of speculation in the media about whether or not C.J. Spiller will return for his senior year. Spiller is an unusual case statistically in that he was a first-team All-ACC player this year, but he never started a game all year. He found time to lead the league in all-purpose running and was the top receiving running back in the league in addition to averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He also ranked in the top 10 in the nation in kickoff return and needs just 114 all-purpose running yards against Nebraska to become Clemson’s career leader in that category in just three years.

I don’t have any inside information as to whether or not he will return for his senior year. That is a decision he will make with his family and after a good talk with Head Coach Dabo Swinney after the Gator Bowl. Swinney recruited Spiller to Clemson and will be a straight shooter with him.

I do know one thing. If he does turn pro he will be the first Clemson player to leave early after a semester in which he made the Dean’s List. Spiller made a 3.5 in the classroom in the fall and most certainly will be named to the academic All-ACC team. If he does he will become the first running back in Clemson history to make first-team All-ACC and first-team Academic All-ACC in the same year. Academic All-ACC is announced in January. He is already the first Clemson player to make the Dean’s List and first-team All-ACC in the same semester since Kyle Young did it in 2000.

Whatever his decision, he will be regarded, along with runningmate James Davis, as one of the most beloved Clemson players in recent history. Would the six sons and daughters of Clemson fans in the upstate of South Carolina who did not receive a signed item from either Davis or Spiller for Christmas, please raise your hands?

*Also kudos to Clemson starting linebacker Brandon Maye, who also made the dean’s list this semester. Maye made second-team freshman All-American according to many of the services, including The Sporting News.