Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett is looking forward to playing Auburn on Saturday night for several reasons.
For one, Leggett has watched the national title game against Alabama seven or eight times on YouTube, and he is ready to officially put that game behind him with the start of a new season.
The game is also Leggett’s last season opener, something he said hasn’t hit him yet but will when he steps onto the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Plus, he is excited for Saturday simply because it is the beginning of a new year and a new journey that Clemson hopes will end with a national championship this time around.
Besides all of that, Leggett is excited for another chance to face a team from the SEC, which he considers the premier conference in college football.
“I love playing against SEC schools,” Leggett said on Tuesday. “They’re the face of college football. They’re the bigger divisions and stuff like that, so these games are always fun to play in. I’m really excited to play Auburn, so it’s going to be a fun game for me.”
Leggett believes the spotlight is a little brighter when playing the SEC. The senior from Navarre, Fla., also said there is conference pride involved when Clemson plays an SEC opponent, or when he watches another ACC team play against the SEC.
“Just playing the SEC, I feel like you’re playing on the biggest stage when you’re playing schools like that,” Leggett said. “I get excited when FSU goes out there and beats Florida and things like that.”
National powerhouses Alabama and LSU have made the SEC West one of the best divisions, if not the best division, in college football on a perennial basis.
Leggett thinks the ACC Atlantic, led by Clemson and Florida State, is building its own reputation as one of the best.
After all, Florida State won it all in 2013 before appearing in the first College Football Playoff in 2014, while Clemson made the second Playoff and nearly took home the trophy itself. Louisville, meanwhile, is an emerging force.
“I think this division is going to be one of the better divisions after a couple more years,” Leggett said.
Week 1 offers up an opportunity for the ACC to make an early statement as a conference, when Clemson plays Auburn, Florida State plays Ole Miss and North Carolina plays Georgia.
Leggett knows it is games like those that can continue to change the perception of the ACC.
“I think we’re going to be the underdog for a while until we keep proving people wrong,” Leggett said, “and winning more national championships.”
That’s the goal for Clemson, and Leggett thinks the Tigers have what it takes to get it done.
“We have all the potential on this team to get there again, so it’s just a matter of taking it game by game and not becoming complacent,” Leggett said. “But playing Auburn this week is exciting. It’s game week, so everybody is excited to see some new faces across the ball. We’re ready to go show people what we can do.”