Patience is a virtue.
That’s been the case for Clemson cornerback Marcus Edmond, who at this point last year was on the scout team and was playing wide receiver. It was not exactly part of the plan when the Hopkins, South Carolina native came to Tigertown three years ago.
Like anyone, Edmond had dreams of getting on the field immediately when he first came to Clemson as a freshman. But he was redshirted his freshman season and then in his second year he only saw the field in four games, while playing just 10 snaps.
In 2015, as the Tigers made their run toward the College Football Playoff Championship Game, the 6-foot, 170-pound defensive back played sparingly and mostly on special teams, and again, spent most of his days on the scout team.
“For me, it just came down to having patience. Anyone like me that was in my position, they maybe would have transferred or something like that. I just had patience and stuck with it,” Edmond said.
It’s a good thing for the third-ranked Tigers Edmond did stick with it. As Clemson continues to try and make a march back to the College Football Playoff, Edmond has played the biggest role in two of the Tigers’ most dramatic wins this year, including Saturday’s 24-17 overtime victory over NC State.
After quarterback Deshaun Watson found Artavis Scott for a 10-yard touchdown in Clemson’s overtime possession, Edmond ended the game on the Wolfpack’s first play as he reached up and snagged the ball from wideout Bra’ Lon Cherry while falling back in the end zone to end the game.
“I caught it. It was game over,” Edmond said afterwards.
Edmond’s interception marked the second time in three weeks he made the play that won the game for the Tigers. Two weeks ago, he pushed Louisville’s James Quick out of bounds a yard short of the first down on a fourth-and-12 play at the Clemson three-yard line with 33 seconds to go, securing a six-point victory over the seventh-ranked Cardinals.
“What can you say about Marcus Edmond … the biggest play, in the biggest games, and he has come up with both of them,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Just an incredible play, I can’t wait to watch that on tape. He just went and got it, just a ball hawk. It was awesome to see.”
Swinney said it is awesome to see a young man in this day and age, where so many players are transferring because of a lack of playing time, stick with the plan, stay positive and not give up even when the prospects of playing did not look good at the time.
“It is a lesson to all of us. It happens at different times,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “What I love about Marcus is that a year ago he is running scout team receiver for us and he never got bitter about it. He didn’t think he was getting screwed over or anything like that.
“He was just the best version of himself. He competed every day. He is a complete and total team guy.”
And that’s the way it should be, says Swinney.
“You hang in there. Marcus Edmond is a guy we took. We knew he could run. We really liked him and we thought he fit our culture. I thought he had good potential. You have to put the work in,” the Clemson coach said.
That’s what Edmond did. He stayed the course and continued to work hard. When Adrian Baker went down with a torn ACL in the spring, Edmond stepped up and took advantage of his opportunity. He beat out guys like Mark Fields and Ryan Carter for the starting spot and when fall camp began he was listed as the starter.
However, there was still one more hurdle to get over. On the first day of practice, he injured his hamstring and missed the rest of camp. But again, instead of pouting about it, Edmond went back to work.
“Marcus has ice in his veins. He never changes his facial expressions. He is the same guy every day and most of that is good,” Venables said. “Maybe that is why it has taken him a little bit to get to this point, but he never panics … He has faced adversity in his career here and all he has done is he has kept working.
“Again, I think that is a great lesson here to all of us coaches and players both.”
Swinney hopes the young players on his team, especially the ones that are not playing as much right now, take a page out of Edmond’s book and stay patient. He hopes they continue to work hard and use their lack of playing time as motivation to work harder and to get better.
“That is what it is all about. If they work, they are going to improve. If they hang in there, then eventually they’ll have some success. I think he is a great example to his teammates,” Swinney said.
And now it is paying off for Edmond and the Tigers as he continues to make the plays necessary to keep them undefeated.
“I try to stay level and play the same the whole game. It was just another play I had to make, it just happened to be the play that won the game. I just take it one game at a time,” Edmond said.
Again, proving patience is a virtue.