By Ed McGranahan.
For a guy not born to the feud Grady Jarrett has embraced the rivalry and developed a sharp distaste for losing to South Carolina.
A native of Georgia he shares the burden of pain from five straight whippings and relishes finally meting vengeance Saturday in Death
“You’ve got to live with the result of this game for the rest of the year,” said Jarrett, the keystone and stolid senior nose tackle for
Clemson’s premier defense.
“Just being part of this program, man, this South Carolina-Clemson rivalry it’s going to follow you everywhere,” he said. “People who know
you as a Clemson Tiger, everybody knows it’s the biggest rivalry in South Carolina. It follows you everywhere you go.”
From a relatively underappreciated position Jarrett has developed a distinctive voice as a respected leader on the Clemson team not just on
As a player he commands accountability. No doubt Carolina center A.J. Cann and guards Corey Robinson and Will Sport want to find him quickly as they come to the line of scrimmage. In last year’s game he was credited with 15 total tackles including two tackles for loss and
generally created havoc.
“I think last year he played one of the greatest games of his college career,” said senior safety Robert Smith, Jarrett’s friend and roommate.
“Grady’s going to seize the moment.”
Jarrett is third in total tackles this season on a unit number one nationally in total defense.
“No one outworks him, and that correlates to what he does on the field,” said linebacker Tony Steward. “Doing what he does makes it so much
easier on the linebackers.
“It frees us to run around and make plays. It would be a whole lot harder if those guys weren’t soaking up blockers and creating havoc.”
In last year’s game Clemson limited Carolina to 315 yards and Jarrett helped force the game to the edges and over the top.
“We defended the run pretty well, but we didn’t create the kind of pressure that we needed up front, whether we’re blitzing guys or just
rushing four,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “You’ve got to beat guys. You’ve got to win 1-on-1 matchups. Teams that have beaten
them this year, that’s one thing that they have done.”
Jarrett was troubled by the result.
“Last year it was tough, really tough, probably had one of the better games of my career,” he said. “I felt terrible after that game, to see
the hurt in my teammates and my coaches as a family.”
Much of the focus this week has been on turnovers and how big a role they played in Clemson’s fifth straight loss. A reporter asked if the
game was in Clemson’s head.
“In my head,” he responded sharply. When the reporter clarified he meant the team, Jarrett muttered, just to be sure it was understood, “Nobody
gets in my head.”
“The turnovers killed us last year,” he said. “If that’s the case we’ve got to go get turnovers. Plays are going to have to be made.”
Making plays comes naturally. A former championship wrestler from a long pedigree of successful athletes, Jarrett could very well continue his
career after Clemson. Listed generously at 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds, Jarrett projects as a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft,
according to a pair of respected scouting sites, a prototypical nose in a three-down front scheme and the No. 6 defensive tackle on the board.
All that would is secondary to ending the streak, reclaiming bragging rights and easing a measure of disappointment this season.
“We’d like to put an end to it some time, and I’d like to be part of that team,” Jarrett said. “We need to bring the state championship back
“The time is here to redeem ourselves.”