Danny Pearman likes the guys he has at tight end. Clemson’s tight ends coach currently has five healthy players competing for playing time, with three—Milan Richard, Cannon Smith and D.J. Greenlee—battling it out to see who will replace Jordan Leggett as the starter.
However, the guy Pearman will not have when the Tigers open fall camp on Thursday is Garrett Williams. The junior tore his ACL in the last week of spring practice back in April and is expected to miss fall camp. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is hopeful, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Orlando, Fla., native could return at some point this season.
“Garrett is a competitive guy,” Pearman said. “I would say the one trait that I like above all else, if I had to say, ‘Hey give me the trait of a Clemson player.’ I want a competitor. I want a guy that when we lose, he is going to pull the bus over because he is sick to his stomach.”
Pearman says Williams is that guy. He wants to compete in everything he does and he wants to be good at it. That’s the reason why as a true freshman in 2015 he became one of the Tigers’ best blockers and moved into the role of H-Back in their short yardage and goal line situations.
“He wants to master his craft,” Pearman said. “I would say, being a competitor, you can’t instill that, you kind of have to have that in whatever you do. I think from that standpoint those other guys have to feel that in our (tight end) room.”
Williams, whose knee was to be reevaluated last week, has already appeared in 30 games in his Clemson career, including one start. The tight end / fullback was an impact contributor in his first two seasons as a blocker in short yardage packages and on special teams.
Not that Pearman wants to see anyone ever get hurt, but if there is a silver lining in all of this, the fact it was Williams who was injured, because of his work ethic and his competitive drive, he can serve as a motivating example for his teammates.
“In our room, if we had to have a guy that could mentally handle having a setback with an injury, which is a part of football … Garrett can mentally handle the setback,” Pearman said.
Williams is just that kind of guy. He is driven that way.
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