It isn’t coach speak after all.
After Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables revealed Kendall Joseph’s would have been vying for the starting job at middle linebacker last fall had he not been injured, many scoffed at the comment. When Venables said the redshirt sophomore was again playing at a high level this spring, again some people thought it was coach speak.
Linebacker Ben Boulware revealed after Monday’s practice behind the Indoor Football Facility, that Joseph is holding things down in the middle of the Clemson defense. Boulware said Joseph is taking all the first-team reps at middle linebacker, while he is strictly working at the weakside backer position.
“Kendall is holding it down,” Boulware said. “Kendall could have played last year. He had the best spring out of anybody last year. The tackles and assists he had last (spring) doubled me and B.J. (Goodson). He was just hurt and could not play.
“Kendall was ready to play last year. He was just hurt so much. Kendall will definitely hold it down. There is no need for me to play MIKE.”
Boulware says during all the injuries situations in camp last fall, first with his should and then his knee, Joseph never got down on himself and stayed positive.
“He has always had a great attitude. That’s what has helped him grow as a person,” Boulware said. “He has had to deal with all these injuries. He has had to be patient and it sucks because he has been ready to play since his freshman year. His injuries have kind of held him back, but I think that has kind of helped him grow as a man and as a leader.
“I think he will be able to show that this season.”
Boulware impressed with freshmen. Boulware says freshmen linebackers Tre Lamar and Shaq Smith, who enrolled in January to participate in spring drills, are eager to learn as much as possible.
Clemson’s All-ACC linebacker said he has been impressed with the two freshmen so far, and he can’t get over how physically ready they are to play. He said it is almost like they are 25 years old from a physical standpoint.
“They are really big for how young they are,” Boulware said. “I think they are definitely a step ahead of most guys because they have already grown into their bodies. They look like NFL linebackers right now.
“The main thing is they have to learn the system, learn the formations and learn the keys on what an offense is supposed to do and what it does. It takes a while to kind of get confident in their knowledge in this system.
“They have a long way to go, but they are growing each and every day. They are learning something new every day. It is definitely a long road, but they’re eager for that challenge, though.”
Leggett taking tips from Williams. Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett has said he chose to come back to Clemson for his senior year because he still had areas he needed to grow in. One of those is with his blocking skills.
Following Monday’s practice, the Mackey Award Finalist told reporters he is taking blocking tips from sophomore tight end Garrett Williams.
“He is definitely the blocker in the room so he is pretty much used to it because all of the fullback, out of the backfield kind of stuff and just going head-to-head with the linebackers,” Leggett said. “He is definitely helping all of us and strengthening all of us.”
Leggett confirmed that Williams isn’t afraid to come after a guy when he is in goal line or short yardage situations.
“He is pretty ridiculous. He is a hard-headed, dude,” Leggett said smiling.
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