Growing up only 45 minutes away from Clemson, linebacker Kendall Joseph surprisingly didn’t know that much about the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry until he grew older.
“I wasn’t a big college fan growing up. I was a big NFL fan. So I wasn’t intrigued by it like a lot of my classmates were,” the Tigers’ middle linebacker said on Tuesday. “I remember my classmates wore Clemson and Carolina stuff. It was serious. I really didn’t have a clue until I got a little older.”
However, one thing Joseph did know is that there is no such thing as an “in between fan” within the rivalry. Either a Clemson or a Carolina flag swings from your front porch. The bitter rivalry doesn’t allow fence riding.
“There is no in between. With me living about 45 minutes from Clemson, I was naturally more Clemson. Most of my classmates were Clemson so I was just kind of following the crowd because I didn’t know much about it, but you definitely have to be one or the other,” he said.
As Joseph grew older and started the recruiting process with Clemson, he was able to gain a better understanding of how significant this matchup really is to his native state.
“I definitely learned more about the rivalry and I bought into it. I realized how serious it really was,” Joseph said. “When I got here, you naturally just get a hatred in your heart. You might not have that hatred before you get here, but when you get here that hate just naturally seeps in.”
For Joseph, a hatred had already existed in his heart before even attending Clemson, but it wasn’t for South Carolina. The Belton-Honea Path graduate despised his high school football team’s biggest rival – Daniel High School. Joseph admitted he gets a little mad when he sees head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables walking around the offices wearing their Daniel High colors because their sons play for the Lions.
“I can’t stand it. I hate to see Coach Swinney walk around with Daniel stuff on and Coach Venables. It makes me sick. I don’t like Daniel,” Joseph said.
Now he doesn’t like South Carolina.
“I get mad just watching them on film,” Joseph said.
As a huge asset to the Clemson football team, Joseph takes great pride in being able to play such a significant role in Saturday’s Palmetto Bowl. The South Carolina native understands the game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. is not just another game. It’s a game that allows the winning team bragging rights for the rest of the year.
“For young guys coming in, they might not know about it, especially if they are not from South Carolina. They look at it like it like it is another game on our schedule and they are in our way, but it’s not just another game. It’s bigger than that because it is South Carolina,” he said. “It’s just history man. It’s the people that came before you and how hard they played against South Carolina. It’s just history. It’s bragging right. It’s respect. It’s all that.”