CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A two-year starter and two-time all-conference player, Clemson right guard Tyrone Crowder had a decision to make after his redshirt junior season in 2016.
At the eleventh hour after much contemplation, Crowder sent head coach Dabo Swinney a text message telling him he would return to Clemson for his senior season instead of declare for the NFL draft.
“I was really close to leaving, and it was a decision that came down to the last day to declare,” Crowder said on Thursday at the annual ACC Media Days.
Crowder’s upbringing ultimately helped him make his mind up.
“I was 11 credits away from graduating, and it kind of came back to how I grew up,” the sociology major said. “I grew up with my grandparents. It wasn’t an easy childhood, and they just kind of harped on getting that education.
“My mom and my dad, they didn’t even finish high school, so I just wanted to get that college degree.”
Now, Crowder finds himself with Swinney and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins at the ACC Football Kickoff at the Westin Charlotte.
Even after electing to come back, he didn’t expect to be one of two players chosen by Swinney to represent the Tigers at the mass media event.
“I was like, why me?” Crowder said, smiling. “But it’s an honor to be able to represent my team. … I’m enjoying it. It’s different. It’s not my cup of tea, but it helps me a lot. It’s a great experience.”
Crowder has earned the opportunity and deserves the recognition after posting 41 knockdown blocks in 1,630 snaps over 28 games, including 27 starts, the past two seasons.
A strong run-blocker, Crowder played a key role on Clemson’s offense that led the nation with 7,555 yards of total offense last season.
Ahead of his final year at Clemson, he is working to improve in pass-protection and reemphasizing fundamentals in order to get better.
“Coach Caldwell says you’re never too old for the basics, just learning the tendencies and studying film,” Crowder said. “Film study and technique will put your head so far into the game and helps you know what to expect. You won’t be surprised by certain moves guys make, so I’m studying film and going back to the basics.”
Crowder came back to Clemson to finish what he started and get his degree.
He is also back to help the Tigers make another run at the national championship.
“You’ve done it before, so you can do it again,” Crowder said. “Let’s admit it’s hard to get there, but you know what it takes to get there. You know you have to work hard, but you’ve already done it before, so it’s nothing new to you. You know what to expect.”
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