Let this be a warning to all of those offensive linemen and quarterbacks out there that have to play Clemson this coming football season because defensive end Austin Bryant thinks the Tigers’ front four is going to be “pretty salty” in 2017. And it’s not like the Tigers weren’t any good last year.
In 2016, Clemson once again led the nation in total tackles for loss – the fourth straight year that has happened — and finished third in sacks. But with Bryant returning as a starter at defensive end, Christian Wilkins moving back inside to defensive tackle, alongside ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year Dexter Lawrence and Fiesta Bowl MVP Clelin Ferrell opposite Bryant, the Tigers have the potential to be the best they have ever been up front.
Let’s not forget Clemson is loaded with reserves like Albert Huggins, Sterling Johnson, Xavier Kelly, Nyles Pinckney, Richard Yeargin and Chris Register.
“At the end of the day, that is all just talk,” Bryant said. “What makes us so special is that each guy on the D-line wants to work. They want to work. All of us want to be the best that we can be. The stuff no one sees is that we are watching extra film and lifting extra, so I think it is that dynamic that can help us be one of the best in the country.”
Bryant helps with that as well. With the 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end back to full speed, it allowed the coaching staff to move Wilkins back inside to his natural position at defensive tackle. Wilkins earned All-American honors at defensive end in 2016 after being a freshman All-American at defensive tackle the year before.
Bryant missed the first six games of the 2016 season after breaking a bone in his foot during fall camp.
“The Florida State game is where I felt the best that I had felt since I hurt my foot,” he said. “That is when I realized I could do close to what I was doing in camp.”
Ever since then, Bryant said his mindset never really changed as a starter after the injury, and now that he is, he just wants to go and prove it every day and earn it. And that in turn is only making the defensive line better as a whole.
“The chemistry is definitely great,” the rising junior said. “Christian and Clelin are probably my two best friends on the team so we hang out a lot. The chemistry is there. Dex and I hang out a lot too, so all four of us are as tight as any unit can be.”
Watch more of Austin Bryant’s interview with the media on TCITV:
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