By Chandler Carver.
With the departure of players like Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore, Clemson sophomore DeShawn Williams knows that this is going to be his year to shine. The defensive tackle caught up with The Clemson Insider after practice Monday.
“Coach [Dan] Brooks, Coach [Brent] Venables, and Coach [Dabo] Swinney all invest a lot in me,” Williams said. “They let me play last year, even though I had expected to redshirt. I got to jump in with the big fish. I was lost sometimes at the beginning, but towards the end of the season I got more comfortable and tried to show the coaches what I could do. This year, I have to let my light shine and show them what I can do for this program.”
Williams comes into the spring as one of the most experienced defensive tackles, but he says that doesn’t guarantee him a first team spot.
“Coach Brooks is giving everyone a chance to get some first-team work right now,” he said. “A spot hasn’t been sold yet. We’re still all out there fighting for a starting spot.”
Williams says that everyone on the defensive line has been working on their technique so far during the spring.
“I have a little more work to do as far as technique goes,” said Williams. “Coach Brooks hammers on us every day to play with technique. Last year I just worried about getting up field. Sometimes, I would be so worried about doing that I’d lose my gaps. This year, I’m working on being more balanced and I just play.”
Williams says that his focus this spring is to “just play.”
“I’m telling myself not to do too much,” he said. “We’re out here grinding and it’s been a much more physical spring practice. I keep telling my self to just play. No matter what.”
This off-season, the Tiger coaches decided to move Tyler Shatley from defensive line to offensive line, a move that Williams says is beneficial to everyone.
“It helps him and us,” said Williams. “He comes off the ball so hard. Now, all those guys on the offensive line are double-teaming us every play. That helps us for game preparation because I don’t think any team we’re going against can match the power of our offensive line.”
Williams also says that the defensive line is motivated to practice harder every day because of comments about their toughness.
“All we’ve been hearing is negative things,” he said. “People say that we’re the softest part of the defense and now we’re practicing with a chip on our shoulders. I want to work to be a more dominant defensive tackle and work hard every play.”