CLEMSON - Ohhhhhhh, back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I am not a fool ...
1) I wasn't around when Chandler Catanzaro was in high school, or a freshman walk-on. But apparently, most of my beat writer clan remembers when Catanzaro seemed like a listless name barely worth filing away.
You all know Catanzaro broke the school scoring record - and it wasn't just by gobbling up extra points for a high-octane offense. He connected on 39 of his last 41 field-goal tries.
Catanzaro is now no longer just a great college kicker. He's an NFL starter.
The Arizona Cardinals released Jay Feely today, which means Catanzaro, who signed as an undrafted free agent, is expected to be the back end of an offense featuring Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and former Clemson teammate Andre Ellington.
Besides Chris Gardocki, who logged 16 years in the league from 1991-2006, Clemson hasn't had an NFL kicker in two decades. Catanzaro's in line to snap that.
2) Ramik Wilson. Georgia senior. SEC tackling leader in 2013. All-SEC first-teamer in 2013. Preseason All-American in 2014 by five different publications.
Yep, Georgia's depth chart indicated that Wilson, who missed more than a week of fall camp due to a concussion, won't get his job back immediately. Sophomore middle linebacker Tim Kimbrough, who had five tackles in 2013 (or 128 fewer than Wilson) is listed as the starter.
3) Clemson sophomore wide receiver Germone Hopper wasn't angry when he was suspended for the first time in his football life. Head coach Dabo Swinney sat Hopper down for all of spring ball to get his academics in order.
"I thanked Coach Swinney for that. I learned my lesson," Hopper said. "I came back more focused. I guess that helped me focus in fall camp and come back even hungrier than before I left."
Hopper was named ACC Rookie of the Week after game two last year, when he caught six balls for 66 yards and two touchdowns against S.C. State. He's listed as Charone Peake's backup at the Tigers' '2' receiver position occupied last year by Sammy Watkins. His 23 catches last season ranked second among Clemson returners (Adam Humphries, 41.)
4) ESPN's No. 2 broadcast team of Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe will call the Clemson-Georgia game as part of ESPN College Football Primetime's coverage.
5) Despite featuring Watkins on the back end, Clemson ranked third-to-worst in the ACC in kickoff returns (18.8 yards per return.)
The Tigers lasted 1991-2000 without a kickoff return for a touchdown, but 2012-13 represented the first consecutive-years drought since the turn of the century. Running back C.J. Davidson and safety T.J. Green, two of the team's better athletes, have been named the kickoff returning starters.
"We're always ready to make plays. Hopefully we can give a spark from the return game," Davidson said Monday. "That's one thing we could have really benefited from last year. With me and T.J., we're going to turn things around."
6) Some pretty significant injury news from the ACC Atlantic: Louisville receiver DeVante Parker, who was voted first-team preseason all-ACC, will miss six to eight weeks after foot surgery. Louisville visits Clemson, the programs' first-ever clash, on Oct. 11, which is six weeks and five days away.
7) A programming note from media row: we're used to conducting Monday and Tuesday player and assistant coach interviews in The Paw, Clemson's second-floor dining hall within the WestZone.
But since the NCAA approved unlimited snacks this offseason, that designated time conflicts with our usual interview period, which means those sitdowns will now take place on the fourth (top) floor of the WestZone where boosters and special guests schmooze during football games.
We're not complaining. The Paw was hospitable, but now we've got a much better view of Death Valley. Happy media may make better stories.
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