ACC: Wilson Norris

Clemson practice report: Kyle Parker's return

August, 4, 2010
Not all ACC schools provide practice reports, but if they do, I usually post them with some editing. These are provided by the sports information directors at each school. Here is Clemson's after its first day of practice:
The Tigers worked out in helmets and shorts in comfortable weather for two hours and 30 minutes on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center.

It was the first of 29 allowed preseason practices for the Tigers, who open the season at home against North Texas on Sept. 4. Clemson will work once a day Tuesday through Saturday this week.

The only player who missed practice due to injury was junior guard Wilson Norris, who suffered a torn ACL in spring practice last March. He will be out until at least November.

Two players missed the practice to take a summer school exam, starting tackle Landon Walker and wide receiver Brandon Clear.

“I saw a lot of progress since we last practiced in April,” said coach Dabo Swinney, according to the team's practice report. “You could see they worked hard on their own over the summer. If you are going to be a good team you have to make progress between the end of spring practice and the start of fall practice.

“I could see that in players like Tajh Boyd. You could see from what he did today that he has made progress. The game has slowed down for him thanks to the work he put in over the summer. I saw that from a lot of veteran players today.”

Swinney was also impressed from what he saw from quarterback Kyle Parker. Clemson’s returning starter at quarterback has not thrown many footballs since the end of spring practice, as he helped the Tigers baseball team to the Final Four of the College World Series. The first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies announced he would return to Clemson to play football for the Tigers on July 21. He still may sign with the Rockies, but will play for the Tiger football team in the fall.

“He amazes me at what he does from a mental standpoint. He made some typical 'KP' throws that make you smile. He did show some rust, but he had an outstanding day.

“It was good to see how excited the other offensive and defensive players were to have him back. While he was not here this summer, they know he was not off sipping cocktails on an island. They say him play for our baseball team on TV, working hard for that team. He went straight from the bowl game to the batting cage without a break. You could see he was refreshed today and ready to play some football.”

Swinney was also impressed by what he saw from the 19 freshmen who were at their first Clemson practice.

“It is an impressive group. They are in good physical condition and will make a contribution as a group this year. It is just the first practice so it is too early to single anyone out, but overall I was impressed.”

Many players worked in the return game at the beginning of practice. The Tigers are looking for replacements for C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford in the return game. That duo became the greatest all-purpose duo in NCAA history over the last four years. Marcus Gilchrist, Jaron Brown, Bryce McNeal and some others worked as kick returners during that part of practice.

Swinney said after practice that Tyler Fowler, a walk-on offensive lineman from Canon, Ga., was given a scholarship for this fall.

Opening camp: Clemson

August, 3, 2010
As summer camp begins, I'll do a quick hit on each team the day they start practicing. The ACC opens today with Clemson and NC State. We'll start with the Tigers.

Schedule: Practice will run from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Fan day is Aug. 22.

[+] EnlargeKyle Parker
Patrick Green/Icon SMIKyle Parker's decision to play football dramatically improved Clemson's chances of repeating as Atlantic Division champs.
What’s new: The face of the running game. Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper will take over as the primary ball carriers as Clemson becomes more of a running team, even with Kyle Parker back. With four returning starters on the offensive line, expect the Tigers to run.

Sidelined: Backup offensive guard Wilson Norris tore his ACL in spring practice and could return by November.

Key battle: Defensively, it’s Brandon Thompson vs. Miguel Chavis at nose guard. Thompson is the returning starter, but Chavis has experience and will play a lot. Offensively, watch the guard spot where David Smith will push Mason Cloy. Cloy broke his leg in the ACC championship game, leaving the reps to Smith this past spring. Smith has the upper hand entering summer camp.

New on the scene: Linebacker Quandon Christian. The 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman is listed as the starter at strongside linebacker, which is impressive considering he started spring ball with the third team.

Breaking out: Receiver Xavier Dye. He has to. Somebody has to. Without Jacoby Ford, the Tigers need a dependable receiver to step up. Dye, a senior, was fourth on the team in receptions last year with 14 for 236 yards.

Don’t forget about: Fullback Chad Diehl. Even though he doesn’t carry the ball much, Diehl has as important a role as anyone because of his blocking ability and he is key to the running game.

All eyes on: Quarterback Kyle Parker. His decision to return to the team instantly increased the Tigers’ chances of repeating as Atlantic Division champs. How much will he improve upon his record-setting freshman season?

Quotable: “I pretty much thought I was gone,” -- Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker on deciding whether or not to join the Colorado Rockies in a baseball-only contract.

Clemson's O-line depth takes hit

April, 1, 2010
Clemson backup guard Wilson Norris tore his ACL during practice on Wednesday, which could end his 2010 season before it begins.

Norris, a junior, will have surgery on the injured knee this month, the school reported in a news release.

Norris, a native of Pickens, S.C., played in 14 games last year for 94 snaps and had seven knockdown blocks as a second-team guard. He was working as a second-team guard this spring as well. He played 61 snaps in seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2008.

Around the ACC: FSU offense shines in first day with pads

August, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here's your daily dose of practice reports from around the ACC, as reported by each school's information office:


Cloud cover kept the temperature from climbing Thursday morning as the Florida State football team donned full pads for the first time this preseason. It didn't take long, however, for the action to heat up as the Seminoles' offense made the lion's share of big plays.

Of course, a big day for the offense also comes with drawbacks.

"The hitting was pretty good, but too many big plays popped out of there," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. "As a head coach you don't know who to root for, your defense or your offense. It scares me when big plays come out of there."

Quarterback Christian Ponder connected on long passes with wideouts Jarmon Fortson, Rodney Smith and Taiwan Easterling, as well as tight end Caz Piurowski, during the first five-minute period of 11-on-11 work.

"A lot of that came against the blitz and we've been working on that all week," Ponder said, offering a hint at the developing mindset on offense. "The blitz for us means big plays and that's what we've been working on and things opened up.

"We definitely didn't have enough big plays last year and stretch the field as much as we wanted to. Things are starting to open up and that's a good thing."

It should come as no surprise that Ponder had ample time to step up in the pocket created by the seasoned offensive line and deliver the football. Improving pass protection has been a point of emphasis since the conclusion of last season.

Junior center Ryan McMahon, who helps anchor the unit along with guard Rodney Hudson, was encouraged by the performance of the unit in its first real test of the preseason.

"Overall we felt we had a better practice today than we did the other day, but I'm sure there's plenty of room for us to improve," McMahon said. "Everybody's attitude was good and it was fun."

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