If there's a better junior signal-caller on the Eastern Seaboard than Willy Korn, we can't find him.
Korn, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound blue-chip QB from James F. Byrnes High in Duncan, and Clemson's first verbal commitment for the 2007 recruiting class, is Tigerillustrated.com's No. 1 rated junior recruit in-state overall regardless of position.
The dynamic athlete, who runs the forty-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, is off to another spectacular start this fall, throwing for over 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns to just one interception, while rushing for nearly 400 yards and six scores en route leading the Rebels to another potential undefeated campaign.
"I feel extremely confident right now, and as an offensive team, I can say we're really confident now. We set a school record for total yardage against Greenwood Friday night, we scored on every possession, and that was pretty big, because of the level of competition we faced, and what we see every week in our region," Korn told Tigerillustrated.com. "You really just want to take it game by game and play by play when you're facing the teams we have to face every Friday night, because there's a lot of talent in this region."
Korn, already a member of Rivals.com's Top 100 junior watch-list, believes a lot of credit for his success goes to Byrnes head football coach Bobby Bentley.
"When I moved to Duncan in the seventh grade, I had only played one year of quarterback. But coach Bentley taught me a lot, and continues to teach, and he never lets us have the opportunity to take a play off. He seems to always have a good coaching point for everything, and would still keep on coaching me hard if I completed every pass."
And it should be noted that Korn almost does just that, carrying an exceptional 76 percent completion rate through the first six games of the season for the Rebels.
"Coach Brian Lane is our wide receivers coach, and he has always been close to our family. I knew him when I was in the eighth grade," Korn said. "He has really helped me with my footwork, and has given me a lot of pointers that I will take with me for a long time."
And for some time, since August 1st to be exact, Korn has been verbally committed to Clemson, spurning offers from Florida, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and South Carolina.
"I usually call coach (David) Blackwell once a week. He has told me whenever I want to call him, I can. He wrote me a letter after our game against Gaffney, and I know my dad has e-mailed him a few times, so we keep in contact," Korn said. "Nothing has really happened since I committed. I haven't gotten more offers, but I'm getting a lot of mail. That has been pretty crazy. Every ACC school, every SEC school, and Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona State, LSU and Notre Dame, especially Notre Dame, have been writing more."
Korn has attended every Clemson home game this season with his father, and did watch Clemson's first road game of the season in College Park, Md., but did not get a chance to watch last Saturday's conference tilt in Winston-Salem, NC.
"My dad and I were in the yard working on some projects around the house, and we listened to the whole game. It was disappointing, because they're playing so hard right now, and they're such a young team with a lot of talent. But they've been in a position to win all five games, and if you compare that to last year when they were not in that position, that's a huge improvement in my book," Korn said.
"2-3 is not where we want to be right now, but I really believe in what coach (Rob) Spence is doing. He's not trying to go out there and have his quarterback throw for 500 yards. He's trying to win the game."
Korn, whose father (Dr. Larry Korn) is a subscriber to the Rivals.com network, said he is aware of the criticism that has mounted from fans following the loss to Wake.
"I know the fans have been really upset with coach Spence and the offense, but we try to look at the big picture," Korn stated. "Me and my dad will read the message boards, and I can tell everybody's really unhappy about the loss to Wake. They're talking a lot about the fake field goal. The way I look at it, it's a call that makes coach (Tommy) Bowden look like he called a perfect play if it works, and if it doesn't work, it looks like a mistake and everybody seems to question it."
The Duncan standout, who has been talking with other Clemson prospective recruits at home games this season, said despite Clemson's 2-3 start, he remains steadfast in his verbal commitment with intentions to sign in the 2007 recruiting class.
"The 2-3 record hasn't affected me at all, not at all. I'm as firm as ever, and I think the other recruits we have are still firm. And I keep an eye on all of that… the committed list. We're always looking at that stuff, so the way I look at it is let's go get more recruits, let's get more big commitments and let's go build a dynasty."
Following our interview with Korn, we spoke with Dr. Korn who also took an opportunity to weigh in on Clemson's season to date and his stance on the program's direction under Bowden.
Quotes from Dr. Larry Korn to Rivals.com
"I think from my perspective, as a father of a recruit, it would bother anybody to see fans give up on players and coaches after the fifth game of a season. Football seasons certainly last longer than five games. And to see fans bail on coaches and players after five games; that's definitely not something you want to see. We just have to think that this is a minority among true Clemson fans."
"We're not discouraged. I know that. I think (Clemson) our players are busting their butts out there every Saturday and they're playing as hard as they can for four quarters. The ACC is a tough conference, and you're just not going to go into Wake and manhandle them every time. They're a good program now, too, and they've got an excellent coaching staff."
"It hurts to see losing, but no worse than the hurt players and coaches feel. I just don't think it's a fan's place to jump on the guys when they're down. I would think people would want to encourage the team. And I say that as a Clemson fan, and as a father of a recruit. Certainly that's the way I'd like to see things when Willy is there."
"We've seen five good football games so far, and three of them didn't go our way, but it doesn't change how we care about Clemson University. We suffer with every loss like every other fan. As far as I'm concerned, we're still all orange over our way."
Dr. Korn said his son keeps all hand-written letters from Blackwell separate from other mail he receives. Dr. Korn said his son views the hand-written correspondence from Clemson as "special" in comparison to the other notes that have come in to date.
Dr. Korn also stated that high school football fans in the Palmetto State could get a real treat by watching the Rebels on a Friday night, though only if they're early to catch a seat.
"I think it's a very special program with a lot of great things happening now and in the future. Coach Bentley always has something going on. I'd encourage all football fans in the state to come up and see this team play. They're exciting, they're well-coached, they're talented, and if fans could come watch them play on a Friday night, they wouldn't be disappointed."
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