While Clemson has to wait until January before it can hire Lemanski Hall as its 10th on-field coach, the Tigers will have to make do with just one position coach on the defensive line for the first time in the Dabo Swinney era.
Todd Bates, who Swinney hired back in January to replace Marion Hobby as the defensive ends coach, will be in charge of the entire defensive front in 2017. Hall is expected to be named as Dan Brooks’ replacement once the new NCAA rule goes into effect.
However, don’t feel too sorry for Bates. He inherits one of the best defensive lines in the country with All-American Christian Wilkins back at defensive tackle, ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and nose tackle Dexter Lawrence and Fiesta Bowl MVP and defensive end Clelin Ferrell. And oh by the way, defensive end Austin Bryant is healthy and ready to go on the other side of the defensive line.
“Coach Hobby and Coach Brooks, they are legends,” Bates said. “They did a phenomenal job here at Clemson developing a D-Line. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to do exactly what they did. You have to put your thumb print on it and you have to be you.
“That right there is going to be enough. I will put in a hundred and ten percent just like they did and have the same twenty-four hours a day that they had in preparation. It’s really just about winning those guys hearts and having them play for you. Then you really have to learn what makes those guys tick.”
Bates believes that is where Brooks and Hobby excelled the most. They knew who they were coaching and knew them inside and out. Brooks coached at Clemson for eight seasons, while Hobby worked under Swinney for the last six years.
“I have been able to do that in my career as well,” Bates said. “I hang my hat on relationships and that is what that is all about, knowing them inside and out. At this stage, having played the game and having coached the game, we know the game of football, but it really comes down to knowing how those guys tick and that is what I have been really focused in on since I got here.”
However, Bates will not be alone when the Tigers get on the practice field for fall camp on Aug. 3. Graduated assistant coaches Zach Fulmer and Miguel Chavis will help coach the defensive tackles. Also, defensive coordinator Brent Venables will be involved as well.
“Fulmer, who has played here, has been in our meetings for four years and has worked with Coach Brooks as well,” Venables said. “Those guys will do a good job of not only bridging the gap and helping to run drills, because they have great familiarity, but also adding scheme wise and technique wise to the conversation.
“Between the three of them, and me included, being the fourth guy, we will be able to do a good job there.”
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