By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- When former walk-on tight end Philip Price earned the starting left tackle position during offseason, he received a lot of negative attention from doubtful Clemson fans, telling him that it’s impossible for a walk-on to be successful as a starter and that he wouldn’t last. Well seven games into the season, the Tigers hold a 7-0 record and Philip Price continues to be the most consistent offensive lineman out of the Clemson’s front line.
““Well one thing I continue to see out of Philip is he’s mean, tough, rugged,” Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris said. “People have told him that he can’t and he won’t and he keeps proving people wrong. People tell him, you’re a walk on you can’t start at Clemson, you’re a walk on you can’t do this, that’s all he’s heard and he continues to prove everyone wrong. He’s playing as well as anybody, and again he gets his ankle rolled up or his shoulder hurts and he’s right back in there the next play. He’s a gritty performer, a guy that you want on your team.”
Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney has also continued to praise Price week in and week out for his top notch performance each Saturday.
“No one thought that Philip Price was going to be our starting left tackle, yet he has been our most consistent player on the offensive line to date,” Swinney said. We moved him over to offensive line last season and were very patient with him. He spent the year learning under Chris Hairston and proved to us during spring practice that he was ready to take on the starting role. He’s become one of our smartest guy up front, knowing exactly what’s going on at all times. We don’t have a tougher guy on this team than Philip Price. If there’s a walk on out there that’s having the impact that this guy is having, I want to see him. I truthfully think he can leave here and play on Sundays, I just wish we could have another year with him.”
Coming off a 56-45 victory over Maryland last weekend, in which the offensive line played a pivotal role, allowing Clemson’s running backs to rush for over 300 yards, Price knows that although they played a solid second half of football, they left a lot on the field.
“We did alright, but we still left a lot on the field,” Price said. “We probably left two or three scores out there and 100 and some odd yards, we can always improve. This was one of those games that we had to score a lot and I was happy to see it all come together like I knew it would in the second half.”
The Tigers had to claw their way out of an 18 point deficit twice on Saturday in order to get past the Terrapins and although he’s satisfied with the victory Price and his teammates didn’t waste any time relishing in their success, instead they’ve moved onto their next opponent, the North Carolina Tar heels who will be visiting Death Valley this weekend.
“A win is a win, no matter how you get it,” Price said. “You just have to get it, whether you get up big and stay up or have to scratch and claw in order to get it, a win is a win. We won so now onto the next one, that’s our mentality.”
Clemson football has always been known for having teams that can come out and defeat ranked teams and then turn around and lose badly to a team that they were supposed to beat, what’s different about this 2011 team that seems to have found the recipe for success.
“We’re just calm, we don’t get worried, we got down Saturday but I didn’t pay attention to that, we knew we would go out there and score and knew it would be one of those games we just had to go out and play,” Price said. “This team is even keel, we don’t get too high or too low, the bad thing about emotion is it’s great but if you constantly rely on it, it will let you down. We rely on mentality of just staying composed and knowing what we have to do, and that’s what carries us through the game.”
Despite the success that the Tigers have had this season, Price knows that there are still Clemson fans out there that are waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for Clemson to botch up their undefeated season by losing to a team they shouldn’t lose to.
“None of us care about the doubters, we don’t pay attention to any of that, but I’m sure it’s out there,” Price said. “It doesn’t matter what we do this season or in years to come, there’s always going to be that section of the fan base, your doubters and negative people, but that’s fine it’s part of the game.”
Where does he feel the offensive line has improved so far this season?
“It’s a constant thing, you get into the groove as the season goes on, and hopefully we’re starting to settle into ours,” Price said. “Since we are all a bunch of seniors and a junior, we know that we are a strong point for this team and being able to carry a lot of the load, hopefully we can continue to do that because I feel like we’ve done that really well at least in the last two games.”
When asked who he thought was better at this point, freshman phenom Sammy Watkins or Clemson great CJ Spiller, Price had a very diplomatic answer.
“CJ is a running back, Sammy’s a wide receiver,” Price said. “Sammy’s a freshman and CJ is playing in the NFL now, Sammy’s got a long way to go. CJ did it for a lot of years; Sammy’s been incredible, far exceeding anybody’s expectations, even as highly touted as he was. He’s come out and shown what he’s about and I’m sure with his ability he’s got a few great years ahead of him here at Clemson. But I can’t speak to that, there’s disparity in years and position there between Sammy and CJ.”
Although Price can’t do a lot of watching when on the field, as most of his time is spent blocking, he loves knowing that the Tigers have a number of playmakers that have the ability to score at any time.
“It’s awesome to know that we’ve got guys like him, Martavis, Charone, Nuk, Lil Bit, DA, Mike, etc.” Price said. “We’ve got weapons and its fun to know that at any point those guys can take it to the house.”