By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Many thought that linebacker Lateek Townsend would be redshirted last season and were surprised when his redshirt was lifted in the fifth game of the season. Sports Information Director Tim Bourett met with the media on Wednesday after practice to clear up the situation. After an NCAA violation in high school, Townsend was reprimanded with a four game suspension. After Clemson went through the appeals process, the 2011 season had already started and so they decided to let Lateek serve his four game suspension during the first four games of 2011. The suspension was due to an incident that occurred during high school dealing with Townsend’s assistant coach and a cell phone.
TCI had a chance to speak with Townsend after practice to find out how he’s adjusting to Venables’ new system, where he’s getting the most reps, and what the feeling was like for him when his redshirt was lifted.
“The transition has been going good,” Townsend said. “Both of those defensive coordinators are very good, I didn’t play very much in Kevin Steele’s scheme so I can’t really say how his system differs from this one because I didn’t play many snaps in his scheme.”
How is Venables using Townsend in the new defense?
“Right now I’m playing in the SAM position,” Townsend said. “I’m athletic enough to play any position on the field but right now I’m playing the SAM and it’s going pretty well.”
“Coach Venables is a hands on kind of guy,” Townsend said of his new coordinator. “When he got here he was very hands on with me, showing us the formations and everything. He gave us a basic foundation that we need to learn and build on it.”
Townsend last season got the majority of his playing time on special teams; however his high energy showed off even then.
“I had a lot of fun, every time I step on the field I make it fun,” Townsend said. “That’s what I play the game for, when it stops being fun that’s the day when you don’t need to play anymore.”
What did Townsend show his coaching staff while on special teams?
“I think I came in and was a pretty good guy,” Townsend said. “I like to hit, so I was able to hit guys coming up the field and use my athleticism.”
Townsend has gotten the reputation on special teams as a head hunter, is that something he can take to the linebacker position?
“I’m still going to try and be that head hunter, but at the same time I want to critique the way I’m playing on defense and be coachable at the same time,” Townsend said. “If I can critique the way I’m playing and be coachable, I’ll be able to be that head hunter that I am.”
Townsend sees himself as an emotional player on the field, but tries to focus on being a student off the field.
“When I go on the field I take it to a whole other level,” Townsend said. “When I’m on the field I try to be a football player, off the field I try and be a student athlete.”
This is the first time Townsend has gone through spring practice, and so far the experience has been a good one for him.
“This opportunity has been great,” Townsend said. “The older guys are showing me the ropes so it’s going good so far.”
Last season, Townsend thought after serving the four game suspension that he would continue on his freshman year as a redshirt.
“It was frustrating but I got a lot of counseling on it,” Townsend said. “I was told that I was a high red shirt and that it could be a good thing so I just took the coaching and it turned out pretty well. I didn’t redshirt I ended up coming onto the field so everything worked out.”