By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Senior cornerback Coty Sensabaugh has faced a lot of adversity throughout his career at Clemson. Being a late addition to his recruiting class with Clemson offering Sensabaugh after he committed to Appalachian State University, not very many Clemson fans had a lot of hope for Sensabaugh coming into his senior season as a starter, however as the season continued Tiger Nation began to see what Clemson’s coaching staff had seen in Sensabaugh during the off season, the makings of a star.
Sensabaugh who now is put up against some of the best receivers the Tigers’ have gone up against including Wake’s Chris Givens and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery, is now making his case for the NFL scouts, something I’m sure no one thought would be the case.
The whirlwind season has continued for the Tigers and Sensabaugh as they convincingly took the ACC crown from previous winner Virginia Tech.
“It feels good, just letting hard work and persistence pay off,” Sensabaugh said. “Its god’s hands on me, that’s the main thing. It feels good to see this team come together like we have and win a Championship.”
What was it that led to the Tigers’ ultimate focus this year?
“We worked hard during the off season and summer with everyone telling us that we couldn’t do it,” Sensabaugh said. “It’s just a great feeling knowing that we’ve proved them wrong.”
Although Sensabaugh has yet to watch film on Orange Bowl opponent West Virginia, he’s heard that the Mountaineer’s offense is similar to Clemson’s.
“I’ve heard that their offense is similar to ours and if it’s anything like ours then it’ll be a great challenge,” Sensabaugh said. “But it should be fun I’m very excited.”
Sensabaugh feels that practicing against an up tempo offense like Clemson’s will help the defense when going up against a quick offense like West Virginia’s.
“I feel it will because we practice against it every day so we’re kind of accustomed to it,” Sensabaugh said. “But at the same time they’re a completely different team so we have to prepare for what they’re going to do.”
Because of their success, the Tigers’ have a longer break than most teams competing in bowl season as they have over a month to prepare for the Mountaineers. However, Sensabaugh like most other Tigers’ although he enjoys the break, is ready to play now.
“I’m very happy about the break because I feel we’ve earned it, but I know that whenever we play we’ll be ready,” Sensabaugh said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing today, tomorrow or January 4th.”
Last year the Tigers’ played their bowl game against South Florida in Charlotte where several seats in the stadium were empty, this year they’re playing in the Tigers’ first BCS game against another high profile offense, meaning that everyone in the nation will be interested in the outcome.
“It feels great like hard work paying off,” Sensabaugh said. “I’m happy for Clemson’s coaches, the staff, the fans, everyone who has a hand on Clemson I’m just excited for everyone. It’s been a long time coming.”
The Tigers’ hit a slump later in the season where they lost 3 of their last 4 games, including a humiliating loss to instate rival South Carolina, with the Tigers’ playing the ACC Championship game the next week, what was the turnaround like?
“It was disappointing but at the same time right after it was forward to Virginia Tech so it wasn’t very tough for me since I’m an older guy and have been here a while and understand all of it,” Sensabaugh said. “It was just exciting getting a chance to win the ACC Championship and we accomplished that, that’s how I feel.”
What ignited the defense against Virginia Tech?
“It was that first play where we recovered Thomas’s fumble,” Sensabaugh said. “And when Brewer hit Wilson when he caught that little flat route, when he hit him I knew it was over after that.”
“We prepared hard for that game,” Sensabaugh said. “And Virginia Tech is Virginia Tech, they haven’t really changed, we knew what their players were going to do, we were comfortable with it. We just went out there and cut it loose. We haven’t had the results that we wanted in the past few games so we just went out there and cut it all loose and it all came together on the night that we needed it to the most.”
How does it feel to Sensabaugh, starting his first year as a senior and going up against the top receivers that the Tigers’ face each game?
“It feels good, I always try to do well individually but the main thing was winning the Championship,” Sensabaugh said. “We accomplished that so now anything else that comes with it is icing on the cake.”
“Going up against the receivers that I’ve gone up against this year has been a great opportunity,” Sensabaugh said. “I’m taking full advantage of that week in and week out. You can’t be afraid to take a chance out at the corner position. If you’re afraid to take a chance, you’re going to not make a play and get beat. It comes with the territory, there’s a reason why they get paid the big bucks because you can make a great pay one play and give up a big play the next. Even against Alshon, I had pretty good coverage on him the whole game but in the end he ended up scoring a touchdown so it goes hand in hand. It’s a tough position to play but I enjoy it.”
Despite the great coverage Sensabaugh kept on Jeffery for the most part against South Carolina, he still left the game disappointed not only with the loss but with the touchdown he gave up.
“Me I get mad when I give up anything,” Sensabaugh said. “I was still kind of upset about that catch despite what else I did throughout the rest of the game, but when the scouts look at it I’ll let the film show them, it’s just what it is.”
Is there excitement for Sensabaugh knowing where he started as a last minute addition to Clemson’s recruiting class to now hearing talk about him being drafted by the NFL?
“Time will tell,” Sensabaugh said. “I’ve always believed in myself and I’ve never lost faith or anything, I know I have talent but time will tell what happens.”