There was a heavy Clemson presence at South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., last Friday night.
Not only did Clemson commit Justin Mascoll of South Gwinnett play against his future roommate at Clemson — Clemson commit Darnell Jefferies of Newton High (Covington, Ga.) — but Clemson defensive line coach Todd Bates was also there watching the future Tigers from the sidelines. Heck, even former Clemson running back great Kenny Flowers was in the stands taking things in.
Jefferies is one of Clemson’s most underrated pledges and showed why as he was a dominant force at both defensive tackle and defensive end during the game. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder wreaked havoc in the opposing offense’s backfield, recording several sacks and tackles for loss in Newton’s 30-8 win.
Clemson has another player similar to defensive lineman Christian Wilkins on the way in Jefferies. Every time his team scored, Jefferies was the first to run out on the field and celebrate with the scorer, even lifting the player up a la Wilkins. Jefferies also resembles Wilkins with his high-energy personality and passion for the game of football.
The Clemson Insider was on location at South Gwinnett on Friday as part of our Tour of Champions. After the game, we caught up with Jefferies about a variety of topics including his relationship with Mascoll, emulation of Wilkins, how he will be used on Clemson’s defensive line in the future and much more:
TCI: What was it like to play against your fellow Clemson commit and future roommate at Clemson, Justin Mascoll?
Jefferies: “It felt great. We had great competition against each other. He made plays, and I made plays.”
TCI: What is your relationship with him like?
Jefferies: “We’ve known each other ever since FBU (Football University camp in Atlanta), ever since the eighth grade. We played on the same all-star team and then we came back and played in the freshman bowl together. I call him a brother, really. I’ve known him ever since I’ve been playing ball.”
TCI: How did it feel to have your future position coach, Todd Bates, there to see you both play?
Jefferies: “It meant a lot just to have coach Bates come down here and watch me and Justin play against each other.”
TCI: You looked a lot like Christian Wilkins when you ran onto the field every time one of your teammates scored to celebrate with him. Did you get that from him?
Jefferies: “When I went to the Auburn game and watched, I was like man, I love that he does that so I gotta do it.”
TCI: Your mother seems to share your love for Clemson. How happy is she that you will be a Tiger?
Jefferies: “My mom’s a die-hard Clemson fan. The minute I committed, she loved it. She made shirts for everyone.”
TCI: How does Clemson’s staff envision you fitting in the defense in the future?
Jefferies: “(The coaches) said I could play both sides (defensive end and defensive tackle) because of my speed to get outside and my quickness in the inside.”
TCI: What does it mean to you to be a part of Clemson’s special 2018 class?
Jefferies: “It means a lot. I’m truly blessed. It wouldn’t mean anything if God didn’t allow me to do this.”
TCI: How excited are you to get to Clemson and begin your career?
Jefferies: “I’m really excited. I’m a mid-year (enrollee), actually. I will be there January 10th.”