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Today is all about finishing what’s been a great career

Jul 22, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware speaks with the media during the ACC Football Kickoff at Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Dabo Swinney could not believe the outfit Ben Boulware had on when he boarded the plan that was taking himself, Boulware and quarterback Deshaun Watson to the ACC Football Kickoff this past July.

“I get on the plane and he has like knickers on or something. It was a bad look,” Swinney said with a grin. “So I took some pictures and sent it to Brent (Venables), and said, ‘This is what you player is wearing.’”

That’s Ben Boulware, says Clemson’s head coach. The All-ACC linebacker is free spirited. He keeps it fun and lite, but he also challenges everybody, including the coaches.

“He likes to practice. He has just been a blast,” Swinney said. “He is everything you could possibly want in a football player and a leader and he is soon to be a graduate of Clemson.”

It’s also getting closer for Boulware and the rest of the seniors on the team to run down the hill one last time. When the Tigers host Pitt today at 3:30 p.m. in Death Valley, the seniors will be honored as part of Senior Day for all the contributions they have made to the football program the last four years.

“They have been amazing. This place was already in a good spot when they got here, and they have taken that foundation and have built on top of it. They are leaving an unbelievable legacy. The run that they have been on is just incredible.”

It has been a record-breaking run.

  • Overall record of 44-6 and that .880 winning percentage is the best in school history. The 44 wins rank second behind the 46-8 record by the 2015 seniors.
  • Has an ACC regular season record of 27-3. The record for conference wins by a senior class is 28-4 by the 2015 seniors. This group has a 28-3 record including the ACC Championship game win over North Carolina last year. The Clemson class record for ACC wins including championship games is 29-4 by the 2015 seniors. So a win Saturda can tie both records.
  • This senior class has been a part of a 25-1 record at Memorial Stadium the last four years. The record for wins by a senior class at home is 26-2 set by the 2014 and 2015 senior classes.
  • In terms of streaks, this group has been a part of a school record 17-game winning streak, a school record 21-game home winning streak, a school record nine-game winning streak on the road, and a school record 23- game regular season winning streak.
  • Part of a continuing 44-game win­ning streak against unranked team, they were a part of the last 35 of those wins.
  • This senior class has nine wins over ranked teams, including five over teams ranked in the top 10 entering the game (2013, #5 Georgia), (2015, #6 Notre Dame), (2015, #8 North Carolina), (2015, #3 Oklahoma), and (2016, #3 Louisville).
  • Has had a final ranking in the top 15 every year, including #7 by Coaches poll in 2013, #15 by both polls in 2014 and #2 by both polls in 2015. The #2 ranking last year was the second highest in Clemson history.
  • Significant contributors to the 2015 team that won a school record 14 games and played in the National Championship game.

The 2016 Class has a chance to add to that run with a win today over the Panthers. A win clinches the ACC Atlantic Division Title and secures a spot in the ACC Championship Game next month in Orlando, Florida. It also brings them a step closer to returning to the College Football Playoff.

“This team has been so easy to coach. No drama. No issues, just an easy group,” Swinney said. “I go all the way to the spring, just how they managed the group from an accountability standpoint and so on. It has been that way all year long. I just can’t tell you how much fun they have been to be around. I’m going to miss them.”

Swinney says this is the time of the year he tells his seniors how they are going to miss him next year. He likes to remind that this is their last Thanksgiving together and how some of them will be in Green Bay next year at this time.

“I mess with them and we have a little bit of fun, but it is a little bit sad, too,” Swinney said. “I challenge our coaches because we only have them for a short amount of time. We don’t have them much longer.

“They are going to remember how we impacted them. They are going to remember the influence we had in their lives, especially when they get a little older and mature and look back on their time here. We just have to make sure we take advantage of our opportunity as coaches to make sure we finish. We ask them to finish, we have to finish what we have worked so hard to develop in them as young men.”

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