2005 RECORD: 8-4 (4-4 in ACC Atlantic) RETURNING STARTERS: 17
RB James Davis (Soph.)
Tied a school freshman record at the end of last season by reeling off four 100-yard games
LG Roman Fry (Sr.)
The 6'4" 300-pounder lined up at center, guard and tackle in '05
MLB Anthony Waters (Sr.)
Finished third in the ACC in tackles per game
Big Man on Campus
Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey is one of the ACC's most lethal playmakers. A former 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 to produce a touchdown by passing, rushing, receiving and returning a punt.
Fifth-year QB Will Proctor is unproven, but his mobility should cure the Tigers' red-zone woes
For four years Will Proctor waited to take his turn at quarterback. He ran the Tigers' scout team, charted more plays than he cares to remember and filled in at wide receiver. He played sideline catch with starter Charlie Whitehurst and broke down countless hours of film. Now that Whitehurst has moved on to the NFL's San Diego Chargers, the wait is over for Proctor, a fifth-year senior who has thrown 34 passes and four touchdowns in 12 games. It's not a stretch to say that among quarterbacks without full-time starting experience, he's more experienced than anyone else in the country.
"I realize that 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 our playmakers. If I can do that, we'll have a successful season."
Throughout spring practice offensive coordinator Rob Spence reminded Proctor to rely on his supporting cast, which is one of the most talented in the ACC. James Davis, a 5'11" 210-pounder, was the conference's rookie of the year last season, when he rushed for 879 yards and nine touchdowns, and wide receivers Chansi Stuckey and Rendrick Taylor are both home run threats. The starting offensive line also returns intact from a team whose four defeats last year were by a total of 14 points.
"Obviously my Number 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 many live bullets yet, but he's very, very ready."
Though Proctor doesn't possess the arm strength of Whitehurst, he's one of the team's top athletes 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 the slow-footed Whitehurst last season, the Tigers had a first down on 47 possessions inside their opponents' 20-yard line; on 20 of those drives Clemson failed to reach the end zone. "If I have to," says Proctor, "I can make plays with my feet."
He'll be under pressure quickly to do just that. After opening at home against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 2, the Tigers go on the road to face conference rivals Boston College and No. 12 Florida State. This much is certain: After those two difficult September games, Proctor will know if the wait was worth it.
-- Lars Anderson