This time last year, there were a lot of questions in regards to Clemson’s lack of experience at defensive end. In fact, in each of the last two years the Tigers have entered fall camp with question marks at one, if not both, of the positions.
However, with the emergence of Clelin Ferrell last season, and with a healthy Austin Bryant back in the mix, Clemson’s defensive end position, at least with its starters, is as healthy as it has been since Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford were terrorizing quarterbacks in 2014.
“For me it was just to see if we had that same hunger that we had the past two years and that’s definitely there,” Ferrell said back in the spring. “The biggest thing I’ve seen is that we’ve taken that work load to a whole other level…you see guys running every drill, you see guys excited when they’re teammates play.”
Ferrell was quick to point out that winning the national championship last year has not caused the team to be intent with where they are at. When they received their national championship rings the week of the spring game, he said it caused guys to realize that it doesn’t have to end here.
“You start to think, ‘Wow, I can get three more,’” Ferrell said. “That’s where that hunger just came from. It’s crazy … you just get that big boost going into next year.”
With so many questions needing to be answered on the offensive side of the football, many believe Clemson will fall back a little this coming season and will play second fiddle to Florida State in the ACC. But in a way, that’s just the way the Tigers like it, especially with so many returning starters on a defense that led the ACC in scoring, total and passing defense in 2016 as well as tackles for loss. They were second in sacks.
“As a team I want to see our effort be great,” Ferrell said. “There have been a lot of times in the scrimmages this spring where our effort has been on and off and sometimes when we’re doing bad we don’t bring that same mentality. So just that attitude and the effort is what I want to see.”
Clemson will begin fall camp on Aug. 4. The 2017 season will kick off on Sept. 2 in Death Valley against Kent State.