Freshman quarterback should play a lot in season opener
With nearly two more months until kickoff, Clemson will open the 2018 football season with the Furman Paladins in Death Valley on Sept. 1.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2012. Clemson has won 30 straight games against Furman dating all the way back to a 0-0 tie in Greenville, S.C. in 1937.
The Paladins, under first-year head coach Clay Hendrix, a former Furman offensive guard and assistant coach, finished the 2017 season with an 8-5 record, while going 6-2 in the SoCon. They lost to Wofford, the defending SoCon Champions, in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
“I’m excited about the future,” Hendrix said on Furman Paladins.com. “I just think it’s important that we continue to build upon the things we have already built upon. That’s from top to bottom in our program.”
The future of the Paladins includes 51 returning lettermen and 16 starters. Included in these returnees on offense are running backs Kealand Dirks, who had 152 rushes for 720 yards and nine touchdowns and Darius Morehead who had 95 rushes for 588 yards and five touchdowns.
All-SoCon nose guard Jaylan Reid, who had 45 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss, and All-SoCon safety Aaquil Annoor, who had 64 tackles and two interceptions will be back on defense as well.
In addition to those top returners, the Paladins signed 16 players during the December and February signing periods and added three transfers to the program as well. Within this signing class are Darren Grainger and Hamp Sisson, who could both be competitors for the open quarterback job, as former Furman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski moves on.
It was also announced this past January that former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw will be a part of the Paladin’s coaching staff this year as the tight ends coach.
With the experience Furman has returning, especially on defense it will be interesting to see if it can put up a fight, specifically against Clemson’s passing game.
Clemson fans are eager to see true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who had a great spring game, in his first game, as well as the return of Kelly Bryant, who led the Tigers to a third consecutive College Football Playoff appearance last season.
With experienced talent on the receiving end, such as Hunter Renfrow and Tee Higgins, the first game of the season should be a an opportunity for the team and Tiger fans to get more clarity on what the passing game will look like this season.
Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders. TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship. Order your copy today!