With graduation completed and players getting back this weekend from a mission trip in Haiti and an internship out in California, the Clemson football team will get back to work this coming week.
Players will report back to campus and begin working on defense of their 2016 National Championship.
“We are not the defending national champions. We are pursuing our next national championship,” Clemson offensive guard Maverick Morris told The Clemson Insider following graduation on Friday.
The Tigers will begin their summer workouts and skills and drills programs in earnest as they prepare for fall training camp which will begin in August. The Tigers kick off the season on Sept. 2 at home against Kent State in Death Valley.
It will mark the first time in the program’s history it will open a season at home as the defending national champions. After the Tigers won the 1981 National Championship, they opened the 1982 season at Georgia on Labor Day Night.
Clemson lost that game 13-7.
Morris admits it will be cool to run down the hill for the first time as national champions, but he said the focus for the team will be about 2017 and not what happened in 2016. He said this summer the senior leaders, such as himself, will really talk to the young guys on the team on what it means to be a champion and that there is a price they have to pay to earn it. They just don’t have it handed to them.
“We have to show what needs to be done and how it needs to be done,” the graduate said.
In the last two years, Clemson has gone 28-2, won a national championship and played for another one. The Tigers beat teams like Alabama, Ohio State Oklahoma and Florida State to achieve the title as national champions.
However, to beat those teams and to earn the title of national champions, they first had to put in the work that led to all of those things. Morris said all of that work begins next week, and if they want to get back there again, they have to work as hard or even harder than last year’s team or the 2015 team.
“The younger guys that were here last year, but they did not play a lot, they no nothing but winning and being the best so it is about teaching them what it takes to be the best instead of thinking it just happens,” he said.