Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett spoke with the media on Tuesday as No. 4 Clemson gets set to host arch rival South Carolina this Saturday in Death Valley in the regular-season finale.
Nearing the end of the season, the senior has 31 receptions for 530 yards and four touchdowns, two of which were fourth quarter game winning scores. His success has been recognized and admired as he was recently named one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end.
As Leggett enters the game, here are some of his memories from the rivalry and thoughts on Saturday’s match-up.
Question: Congratulations on being named a finalist for the Mackey Award. How special is that now two years in a row?
Leggett: “It’s pretty awesome. I was just happy when they announced it, I didn’t think I was going to make it into the finals with all the other tight ends I was going against, but I’m extremely happy.”
Question: What’s the difference in the rivalry being in Columbia and being here?
Leggett: “I guess just less Clemson fans going to Columbia, other than that it’s pretty much the same, the same atmosphere, the same hate for each other.”
Question: Can you talk about what this game means to everybody on the team even though it’s one game in the big picture?
Leggett: “It’s a huge game for us. It’s our next door neighbor. It’s always fun to play them at the end of the year because whoever loses has to deal with it for the whole year after that.
Question: When did you get a grasp of the importance of this rivalry?
Leggett: “Freshman year. I didn’t really know much about it. But seeing all the hate, pulling out on the bus going to their stadium in Columbia, it was terrible honestly. You just develop that hate for it and you just develop that rivalry.”
Question: Is Dabo a different coach now than he was a few years ago, now that you guys have won a couple against USC?
Leggett: “He’s probably harder on us now than he was back then. He wants to keep this streak going that we have right now. I think he just really wants to build the streak up and keep it going for as long as we can.
Question: How emotional will it be standing on the hill for the last time?
Leggett: “It’s definitely going to be a crazy feeling. I’m definitely going to miss this place; it’s been awesome to play here. Just running down the hill one more time is going to be kind of emotional, it’ll be all fun when we get to the bottom of the hill and we get to go out there and play one more time.”
Question: You guys treat every game like it’s the biggest game of the season, but is there a different edge during rivalry week at practice?
Leggett: “Practice is pretty much similar for every game, but the game is definitely going to be different. With rivals like this, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Question: You mentioned being on the bus as a freshman, what did you seen those Gamecock fans doing?
Leggett: “Everybody telling us that we’re number one, flicking us off, rocking the bus and everything like that. Their fans are great but they’re pretty crazy. They’re going to ride or die for their team.”
Question: What was going through your head there?
Leggett: “I was just sitting there like ‘There’s no way they can get on the bus right?’”