The following article appears in the October issue of CUTigers The Magazine. Learn more about subscribing to the largest independent magazine covering the Clemson Tigers, by clicking here.
Of course, the ones that say they’re the smartest players are usually the linemen themselves.
And while no one is questioning the intelligence of Clemson’s big guys, they are not cut from the same cloth as typical linemen. Instead of the normally strong and silent type, they are jokesters, very serious, overgrown children, quiet, talkative and hell raisers all at the same time.
This ragtag group is so individually unique that, in a strange sense, the vast difference has helped them forge together to be one of the best offensive lines the Tigers have had in years.
“I believe we’re tighter,” right tackle Marion Dukes said. “I think we’ve bonded more than we have before. I think everybody is used to each other, and we have fun together.”
The cast of odd characters include “The Face,” “Big Country,” “The Preacher,” “The Seventh Grader,” “Big Red” and “The Hippie,” just to name a few.
The Face – This nickname belongs to left guard Roman Fry.
“Just look at him,” center Dustin Fry (no relation) said. “What can you say? He’s just a slack-jaw hillbilly from near West Virginia.”
Roman Fry also has a couple of other nicknames, but they are not suitable for a family publication.
Big Country – Right guard Nathan Bennett sports this moniker.
“That pretty much sums everything up right there,” Dustin Fry said. “If there’s anyone more country than him, I’d like to see them.”
Bennett is also the line’s designated trash talker. He’ll say just about anything to anybody at any given time. He’s been known to dish out more trash than a school cafeteria.
“Roman and Bennett, those are your typical offensive linemen,” quarterback Charlie Whitehurst said. “They like to fight, which I love. They’re crazy guys.”
The Preacher – Right tackle Marion Dukes owns this nickname.
Dukes likes to quote Bible scriptures, which is where he gets his name. However, he likes to do something else that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
“Yeah, I do like some country music,” he said. “I like Toby Keith and some Kenny Chesney. I like it all. I like singing all those songs a little bit and get them to laugh at me.”
Liking that twangy music isn’t unusual until you hear what Dustin Fry has to say about Dukes, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 315 pounds.
“There’s nothing funnier than watching a big black guy walking around singing Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith,” he said. “You just don’t see that very often.”
The Seventh Grader – This is the name of left tackle Barry Richardson.
“He looks like an overgrown seventh grader,” Dustin Fry said. “He still acts like he’s in high school. He’s always wearing his Wando High t-shirt.”
Dukes takes the nickname even further, saying, “He talks like a seventh grader, and he looks like a seventh grader.”
Richardson, apparently, is an enigma to everyone around him. They just can’t get a full comprehension of what’s inside Richardson’s head.
“I haven’t quite figured Barry out yet,” Whitehurst said. “He’s just a big giant. He doesn’t talk much. He’s a complex dude, to tell you the truth. He’s real smart and he likes messing with you. He doesn’t really want to come across as a smart guy, but I really think he is. He just really weirds you out. He’s a funny guy.”
Big Red – Left guard Brandon Pilgrim wears this tag.
All one has to do is take a quick glance at Pilgrim and it’s very obvious where he gets this nickname. He doesn’t come across as someone who talks a lot, say like the Fry boys, but don’t let his demeanor fool you. He’s very fierce on the field.
And strangely enough, Pilgrim seems to be the one normal one of the group.
“The nickname says it all,” Dustin Fry said. “He’s big with red hair. There’s not much strange about him.”
The Hippie – Center Dustin Fry is the owner of this nickname. He, too, has a couple of others, but again, it’s not suitable for print in this magazine.
Dustin Fry, who sports a beard that looks as though it came straight from The Grateful Dead’s very own Jerry Garcia, doesn’t like being called a hippie, but he admitted to having been to 14 Dave Matthews Band concerts, including three this summer.
He also loves Widespread Panic.
“I guarantee you he’s the biggest hippie in South Carolina,” Roman Fry said. “Whenever he goes to any of these concerts, you know he’s the biggest person there.”
Roman Fry also says the center is also nothing more than a hick from Summerville. He added a few other terms, but again, not for this publication.
“He’s a nice guy,” Whitehurst said. “He’s not out a lot, and he’s not a social guy. He likes being relaxed at his place. He’s very relaxed and comfortable, but he takes his job very seriously on the field. I think he’s a real with-it guy. He doesn’t miss his call, ever.”
And if it were up to Dustin Fry, he’d be involved in the offense a little more, even though he played every single snap against Texas A&M.
He keeps waiting for the Tigers to install a center screen pass. But he hasn’t had any luck convincing offensive coordinator Rob Spence to create that play just yet.