As a five-star recruit, linebacker Tre Lamar used to watch videos on YouTube of Clemson running down the hill. Before this Saturday’s game against Troy, he’ll get to experience it himself for the first time.
“I always wanted to do it, so it’s going to be awesome,” Lamar said on Tuesday. “I’m sure it will be a packed house, so it will be one of the most exciting things I’ve done.”
The tradition and pageantry is one of the reasons Lamar decided to play at Clemson. But more than anything, he came to Clemson because he sees it is a place that is different than other schools.
“I feel like the vibe around Clemson is different,” Lamar said. “The way coaches care about their players, not just as players, but as people — I think that’s different than other schools, and I felt that when I took the visit. That’s why I came here.”
Lamar played his first snaps in a Clemson uniform — eight, to be exact — at Auburn on Saturday night.
Ironically, Auburn was one of the finalists for Lamar’s services before he committed to Clemson in July 2015.
“I visited them a couple times,” Lamar said. “I had a really good relationship with the coaches up there, but I decided to come here. I’m glad I made this decision.”
Lamar admitted he was nervous prior to the game, though he performed well in limited action. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder recorded four tackles, including a tackle for loss and a sack.
“I definitely had butterflies,” Lamar said. “90,000 fans at night, and I’ve been thinking about this all my life, so I definitely had some butterflies. But it was great to get on the field. It was exhilarating.”
Lamar was one of just four true freshman who played in their first career contest, along with Dexter Lawrence, K’Von Wallace and Jamie Skalski. Wallace and Skalski played on special teams only.
Lamar wasn’t sure or not whether that would be the case.
“I knew I’d get in on some goal line stuff, some heavy personnel-type things, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to get any reps at middle linebacker,” Lamar said. “So, to get some out there was awesome.”
“I’m thankful,” he added. “So thankful.”
Clemson’s coaching staff made it clear throughout fall practice that Lamar is ready to contribute early in his career, and he should see more time as the season progresses.
The native of Roswell, Ga., credited fellow linebackers Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph and Dorian O’Daniel for helping him learn things such as Clemson’s schemes, where to line up and opposing personnel.
He also said enrolling early in January was greatly beneficial.
“There’s definitely a learning curve, but coming in early in January and going through the spring really helped me out, getting used to the plays and knowing what I’m supposed to do,” Lamar said. “So, in August, I could really focus on different teams, knowing their personnel and what they like to do, and not as much basic stuff that everybody already knows.”
The transition from high school to college is something many highly touted recruits struggle with, as they are accustomed to playing significant roles and often have to bide their time behind established veterans.
However, that hasn’t been a problem for Lamar.
“You have to humble yourself,” Lamar said, “and just come in here ready to learn from guys older than you because they’re willing to help you.
“So, I had to humble myself, learn from the guys in front of me, and it’s been working out.”