The defensive end position has been a bit of a dark horse for Clemson the past couple of years (excluding Shaq Lawson). Who will start? Who will step up this year and have a highlight worthy season?
Well this it’s a tad different. There are zero questions about that talent on both sides of the defensive line. With Austin Bryant back from injury, Clelin Ferrell coming of a red hot run in the College Football Playoff and Christian Wilkins playing just about everywhere on the line, the real question is, are there enough positions on the D-line to have them all on the field at once?
Not to mention the loads of talent that lie beneath them on the depth chart.
With the Orange & White Spring Game coming up this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Death Valley, Clemson fans will finally get to see them all in action. Ferrell is primed and ready to take over the defensive line and lead in only his second season playing.
The redshirt freshman will be instrumental in the defenses success and believes they have made a lot of progress during the spring.
“For me it was just to see if we had that same hunger that we had the past two years and that’s definitely there,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve seen is that we’ve taken that work load to a whole other level…you see guys running every drill, you see guys excited when they’re teammates play.”
Ferrell said the defense is ready for the Spring Game, especially since the quarterbacks will be live unlike last year.
“That makes it exactly like a real game so there’s no shoulda, coulda, woulda been a sack,” said Ferrell. “You really gotta bring it now.”
Although injuries are always a concern when the quarterback isn’t protected, Ferrell said he is not worried and won’t let that get in his way of playing his game.
“Hey man, when you are out there competing you can’t be worried about that,” he said. “Obviously we’re not gonna try to do anything dirty to them but we’re definitely gonna try to put some weight on them…they’re tough guys, they can take it.”
The players were reminded of the rewards all of the hard work and sacrifice they put in during spring practice on Wednesday night when they received their rings at a special ceremony. They all received the rings from the ACC Championship, the College Football Playoff and the National Championship.
“We can’t even put it into words. All the players had it all over social media,” said Ferrell. “It was a really humbling feeling…all those nights and summers, the grind in the early 5:30 am workouts. It’s great to see that finally pay off.”
This also instilled an even more intense motivation. It gives them more of a reason to try even harder this year.
“You start to think, ‘wow I can get three more,’” Ferrell said. “That’s where that hunger just came from. It’s crazy, last night you just get that big boost going into next year.”
In addition to the motivation, the players also get some bragging rights, but Ferrell now knows that sometimes it’s better not to flaunt them in front of his fans.
“I wore them last night. Me and Christian wore them around town showing everybody,” said Ferrell. “Somebody tried to take it off my finger so I’m gonna put it in a lock box tonight and give it to my mom.”
Even with all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the ring ceremony, Ferrell said that he is locked in and excited to see some improvement from his team this Saturday.
“As a team I want to see our effort be great,” he said. “There have been a lot of times in the scrimmages this spring where our effort has been on and off and sometimes when we’re doing bad we don’t bring that same mentality. So just that attitude and the effort is what I want to see.”
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