Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney welcomed 102 student-athletes to the auditorium at the West Endzone of Clemson Memorial Stadium at 5:00 PM on Monday afternoon. Clemson will begin practice in preparation for the 2010 season on Tuesday at 6:00 PM on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center.
Clemson is coming off a 9-5 season in which the Tigers finished #24 in the final Associated Press poll. The Tigers won the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time thanks to a 6-2 ACC record, tied for the best by the program since 1991.
It will be the first August practice since 2006 without All-American C.J. Spiller on the practice fields for the Tigers, but Clemson returns 47 lettermen from last year, including 13 starters, seven on offense and six on defense.
The list of returnees includes second-team All-ACC tackle Chris Hairston, and quarterback Kyle Parker, who started all 14 games last year under center. Parker was drafted in the first-round by the Colorado Rockies in June, but has decided to return to Clemson to play football. He still could sign a baseball contract with the Rockies by the August 16 deadline, but has stated he will play football for Clemson no matter what the outcome of the contract negotiations.
The defense will be led by returning first-team All-American DeAndre McDaniel, leading returning tackler Marcus Gilchrist, and senior defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins.
Swinney was pleased with the physical condition of his team as he met with the squad early Monday evening. “The team is in very good shape,” said Swinney. “It is as lean a team as I have seen. The men have really bought into the nutrition program developed by Dr. Loreto Jackson and the strength training program by Joey Batson.”
Swinney is anxious for Tuesday’s first practice. “This is my favorite time of the year. You are with the guys all day, everyday and you can really make progress in so many areas.
“Spring practice is a time for teaching. I tell the guys that they have to work hard from April 10 to August 3. They should do everything they can to improve over that time period. I will be able to see how much they have improved since April 10 tomorrow.
“ I always look forward to that day for that reason. What have we done to improve our focus? Are they paying attention to detail? How do we stand mentally and physically, individually and as a team? That is what I will look for on Tuesday and in this first week.
Swinney is expected to have 19 new freshmen on his roster for the first day of practice on Tuesday, many of whom were in Clemson working out since early July. Two of the freshmen enrolled at Clemson in January, offensive tackle Kalon Davis and defensive lineman Josh Watson.
The only player expected to miss practice due to injury on Tuesday will be offensive guard Wilson Norris, who suffered a torn ACL during spring practice.
With Clemson beginning its academic year on August 18, preseason camp will run for just 15 days. There are three two-a-day practice days scheduled, August 9, 11 and 16. The team will practice in pads for the first time on Saturday, August 7. There will be no practice Sunday, August 8 and Sunday, August 15.
Practices are closed to the public. The annual Fan Appreciation Day is schedule for Sunday, August 22 at Memorial Stadium. Doors open at 3:00 PM.