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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Clemson position battles: Only a handful up for grabs

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I know, I know, it seems like Clemson is all over the place today, but it happens to be Atlantic Division day for our Blue Ribbon previews and Clemson is second in the position battles because it starts with C. I didn't make up the alphabet.

Clemson has 14 starters returning, so most of the positions are already locked up. Here's a look at the few that aren't heading into summer camp:

DEFENSIVE END: Kevin Alexander or DaQuan Bowers.  It's up to one of these guys to fill the void left by Phillip Merling, who was the first pick in the second round in the NFL draft. Alexander isn't as big as Merling, but he's quick and was a key contributor on special teams. And everyone knows Bowers, the No. 1-ranked high school player in the nation in 2007. He led the defense with seven tackles in the spring game.

LEFT GUARD: Jamarcus Grant or David Smith. Grant, a 305-pound junior, has played sparingly the past two seasons. He played 18 snaps against Central Michigan and graded 75 percent for his best game of 2007. Smith, a freshman from nearby Greenville, S.C., is the other option.

STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER: Scotty Cooper and Jeremy Campbell. Cooper might have edge because he started in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and had 10 tackles in that game. He finished with 33 last season. Campbell was a backup last year who played in nine of the 13 games and averaged 13 snaps.

Check back tomorrow for Duke.