College Football: Clemson returnees lead Heisman buzz
CLEMSON, S.C.ó There’s plenty of buzz about the Heisman Trophy around Clemson this summer, even if no one’s sure which Tiger it’s focused on.
Maybe it’s senior quarterback Cullen Harper, who threw a record 27 touchdowns to just six interceptions last season and returns as the Atlantic Coast Conference favorite for player of the year. Or perhaps it’s power runner James Davis, back for a senior season where he’s poised to become Clemson’s first rusher with three seasons of 1,000 yards or more. Then there’s Davis’ running mate, the electrifying C.J. Spiller whose playmaking skills remind many of former Heisman winner Reggie Bush.
And don’t forget record-setting receiver Aaron Kelly, who caught 88 passes and 11 touchdowns as a junior.
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden wishes he could use more than one football this season with these talented Tigers.
“This is the best returning group that I’ve had,” said Bowden, starting his 10th season.
Bowden and his staff have spent the past few seasons luring some of the country’s best to the rural campus in the state’s northwest corner. Now, the Tigers have a deep and experienced group which already has its names in Clemson’s record book. Davis wears down defenses with his relentless style while Spiller can slip through the smallest hole and outrace defenders to the end zone any time he touches the ball. Kelly can catch passes over the middle or take a bubble screen behind the line of scrimmage for big yards. The poised Harper is there to make the whole thing go.
Sounds like a good recipe for strong season. But maybe not the best formula to come away with college football’s top individual award next December.
“It’d probably be hard for one of us to win it because we won’t put up a lot of the stats that a lot of guys put up,” said Davis, the “Thunder” of Clemson’s “Thunder and Lightning” backfield.
Of course, Clemson had the orginial Heisman winner ó John Heisman coached the Tigers to a 19-3-2 mark from 1900 to 1903. No Clemson player has won the trophy named for the college football innovator and ex-Tiger coach.
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