Being the new coach on a staff that has had so much continuity the last five years is not an easy transition to make. When you are the guy that has to replace coaching legends like Dan Brooks and Marion Hobby, it makes it even harder.
But new defensive line coach Todd Bates, says the transition has been easier than expected because he inherited a group of players on Clemson’s defensive line that might be the best in the country. The Tigers return Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence in the middle with Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant out on the edges.
Wilkins was an All-American in 2016 and has played in two national championship games, while winning one, while Lawrence was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. Ferrell was the Defensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl, while Bryant has played in both national championship games the last two seasons as well.
“That’s a blessing,” Bates said about his defensive line. “It all happened with God’s timing. But to walk in with the depth chart we have as a defensive line and those guys coming in playing for two national championships in a row and having that big-game experience, it does not get any better than that. I could not have walked into a better situation.”
Bates has also been humbled by how much his players know and how easy they all have been to coach.
“Those guys have also made the transition easier because when I first got here they of course knew the playbook better than I did and it kind of humbled me because I had to ask them some stuff,” Bates said. “Christian has been a phenomenal leader and all of those guys. Dexter, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, they helped make my transition that much easier.”
Clemson will open fall practices on Aug. 3 as it prepares for the 2017 season opener against Kent State on Sept. 2.
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