Reader breaks down the defensive line

Reader breaks down the defensive line


Reader breaks down the defensive line


By Will Vandervort.

Clemson will have to replace four starters on the defensive line this coming fall as well as another defensive tackle and a defensive end. In all, six players that made a huge contribution in the Tigers’ rise to being the nation’s No.1 ranked defense are all gone.

Clemson still welcomes back three guys up front that helped in that rise to the top, including senior defensive tackle D.J. Reader. Defensive end Shaq Lawson and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins will also be back and are projected as starters this spring.

Here is what Reader said about the prospects of the 2015 season and how well the defensive line can really be.

Reader of course will miss the first couple of practices this spring after injuring his foot in a weightlifting accident, in which a weight fell on his foot. He is supposed to be back later this spring.

Question: Does Carlos Watkins look the Carlos Watkins prior to the accident in September of 2013?

Reader: He is back. Being my roommate for three years, Carlos and I have really got to know each other. I knew last year he wasn’t exactly Carlos, but now he is kind back to where he wants to be. Midseason last year you saw him making plays and he is comfortable with his body and is comfortable with what he is doing. It is really exciting and it is really encouraging.

Question: What do you see in Scott Pagano?

Reader: Scott is a good player. He is a really good player. He is a strong kid. I think he is going to make an impact this year because he is real focused. In the weight room, he is getting after it. I just saw him put up 38 reps at 225 the other day. He is a real solid kid. He learns and takes coaching really well. I think he is going to be a really good player.

Question: Do you think Sterling Johnson is going to get in there and really help you guys out?

Reader: Sterling is going to be okay. He has to learn. He has to stay focused. He can’t get down in himself. I think it is so easy as a freshman to get down on yourself. I think if Sterling keeps working and stays behind us because we are going to keep encouraging. If we keep encouraging him, I think he is going to be just fine.

Question: What is left for you to learn at Clemson?

Reader: I go through my notes just like it is the beginning of the season. I never start off acting like I know everything. Everything Coach Brooks says I write it down and I go through it again every single year and gave over those notes over and over. I think it all comes down to learning and growing. There might be something you missed. You can learn every day from Coach Brooks. He is such a great guy.

Question: How can you get better?

Reader: I think for my game I can just use my hands more. That is something that I really try to focus on, especially when I talk to Coach Brooks. He has tape after tape. I have watched so much drill tape that he has, Carlos and I come out here on our off days and work on some hand drills and just try to work to get better because you can’t every stop trying to get better.

Question: You played as a freshman, what do these freshmen have to do to keep that focus so they can get on that field?

Reader: They have to grasp as much as they can. You can’t catch all of it as a freshman. You have to take what you got and you have to apply it, especially when you have to go out there and learn two different positions. Just focus on what you know. And that thing you know, do that to the best of your ability. You cannot go out there and try to do that as hard as you can. If you don’t know it, at least mess up at full speed. Don’t go out there playing timid.

What is your impression of Albert Huggins?

Reader: He is a strong kid that has a great ability as a player. He has a great attitude. He takes coaching and he does not say much back. He is a player. He is a football player.




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