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Tankersley driven to provide for his son

Oct 10, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (25) leaps over Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wide receiver Micheal Summers (84) after making an interception during the first quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Last Sunday was a proud day for Cordrea Tankersley.

The Clemson defensive back got to do something he only imagined before then. He got to watch football with his son – Cameron.

Though, Cameron, who is a new born, will not remember the moment, his dad will and he will be sure to tell his son about it when he grows up.

“We watched a lot of Sunday football,” Tankersley said proudly.

Part of Cameron’s first football experience with his dad was watching Tankersley’s former Clemson teammate T.J. Green play for Indianapolis in the Colts win over the Green Bay Packers. As they watched the game, Tankersley looked at his son and said, “Hey son! I can play with them.”

And he can. Tankersley, who grew up in Beach Island, South Carolina and went to Silver Bluff High School, is considered one of the top corners in the 2017 NFL Draft next spring. Some mock drafts already have him going in the first round, with SI.com last month having him as the first Clemson player coming off the board.

“I watch T.J. and them play, and I know I can play with them,” Tankersley said.

Tankersley almost entered his name in the NFL Draft last year, but he decided he needed to comeback and prove he could be a shutdown corner like his former teammate Mackensie Alexander. Last year, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner led the Tigers with five interceptions. He also had 60 tackles, including 51 solo tackles. He also had a team-high 11 passes broken up.

Tankersley took it personal because teams tried to pick on him, even though he proved his worthiness throughout the season.

This year, Tankersley is again one of No. 2 Clemson’s best open field tacklers on the team with 40 tackles, and though the football is not thrown his way quite as often as it was last year, he still leads the team with eight passes defended. He got his first interception of the season in last week’s win over Syracuse.

“Of course, they are not going to throw my way or they are going to throw a lot of quick passes where I can’t get to them, but it has been good to see other guys, like Jadar (Johnson), lead the team in interceptions. He is well deserving of it.

“I’m just going to get what I can and take what I can get, and get better from that.”

Tankersley said he learned a lot from the Florida State game, where he and Mark Fields were called for a couple of pass interference penalties and were beat on a couple of long passes. He chalked it up to being under-thrown passes and not finding the ball fast enough as part of the problem.

However, he said it was a learning experience and let him know he has some things to work on before this season comes to a close and next spring’s NFL Draft.

“That is kind of the hard thing about it because I’m a physical corner. That’s one thing I wanted to work on against Syracuse,” he said. “I wanted to play with a little bit better hands and technique and it paid off. You just don’t want to let a man run free. I don’t like that.”

On Saturday, when the Tigers host Pitt in Death Valley, Tankersley will be honored with the rest of the senior class as part of Senior Day. It’s the next to the last time he will run down the hill as a Clemson Tiger.

“It is getting emotional by the day, knowing my time here is coming to an end here shortly so I’m just trying to enjoy the moment with those guys in the locker room,” he said. “These four years here have been a true blessing. I’m not going to get another opportunity like this. This is the best atmosphere in the world.”

Tankersley said it has been a long journey to get to where he is at today. From prep school at Hargrave Military Academy to getting little playing time in 2013 and ’14, the senior has had to earn everything he has accomplished to this point. And after all of that hard work, and his long journey to get here, his senior season, and his time in Death Valley, is almost over.

“Now that it is here, things have really flown by. We are headed into the tenth game of the season. It seems like we just started spring workouts last week. It is really flying by now.”

However, Tankersley has a new motivation. It’s his new baby boy, Cameron. And his new goal is to one day have his son watch him play on Sundays.

“It is a blessing to have a new baby boy in the world. I go out and grind every day for him,” Tankersley said.

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