On Tuesday, Clemson closed the book on 2017 fall camp practices. Now, Clemson will begin its process of game preparation as opening weekend versus Kent State is only 10 days away.
Following practice, the media spoke to quarterback Kelly Bryant, wide receiver Deon Cain, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence about the process of preparation following fall camp.
Here is what we heard:
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced on Monday that after watching quarterbacks Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson battle for the starting position throughout fall camp, Bryant will start on Sept. 2 versus Kent State.
The junior is honored to be able to lead Clemson’s offense this season, but he also stressed that he will not be complacent.
“It feels good,” Bryant said. “All the work I’ve been putting in since I’ve been here, I feel like it’s paying off. There’s still a long way to go leading up to the game, so I’ll have to perform every day on the practice field and in games to keep being named the starter. So it’s an honor, but like I said, work still needs to be done leading up to that first game.”
As for Bryant’s receivers, they couldn’t be more thrilled for their friend and quarterback. Deon Cain said Bryant’s confidence in practice and his decision making really separated him from the other quarterbacks battling for the starting gig.
“I’m really excited about it,” Cain said. “He earned it throughout camp. Everybody has a lot of confidence in him. We’re going to keep working hard. I’m proud of him.”
The “new team, same dream” slogan has been circling the Clemson football program since the beginning of fall camp. Many players have really bought into the mantra of reaching for the same goals despite having different faces on the field.
“The goal is always the same,” Wilkins said. “Just to be the best you can be and that’s through hard work. The standard doesn’t change. Best is the standard. That’s our goal each and every day. Just be our best and the rest will take care of itself.”
And that’s what the defensive tackle is trying to do. Be his best self, not settling for less than the best. The one thing that has changed for Wilkins is his status as a veteran, which means he will serve as an essential leader in 2017.
“Now it’s different because there’s no older guy now I can turn to,” Wilkins said. “Now I am the older guy everyone looks to and everyone is expecting to perform their best. I always hold myself accountable and now everyone else does.”
The Tigers listen to him, too. Christian Wilkins’ so-called little brother Dexter Lawrence says he’s just a guy that the team gravitates towards.
“It’s just his attitude every day,” Lawrence said. “How can you not love him? Really. Every day he comes out with a positive attitude, you never see him down. He always looks to work, keep working, do extra work. And he respects everyone. He doesn’t treat anyone differently.”
One main and very apparent takeaway from Tuesday was that Clemson is moving on. The Tigers are focusing on the talent they do have, and not the talent that has left. They have a new team, but the same dream, and they are excited to start their climb back up the mountain come Sept. 2.
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