For the first time since 1982, Clemson entered fall camp as the reigning national champions. However, on Thursday the Tigers’ first day of practice, the 2016 National Championship was in the rear-view mirror.
The media spoke to many players and coaches on Thursday, including head coach Dabo Swinney, offensive coordinator Tony Elliot, quarterback Kelly Bryant, and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.
Here is what we heard:
Some might think that getting back into the groove of college football means hours on end of practice, intense weight lifting, and extensively studying film and playbooks. For Swinney, it’s not just about the physical training.
“We’ve taken the last few days with our team and really have not talked a lot of football,” he said. “It’s been more ‘why we do what we do, what drives our program and how we do those things,’ and now today we get to go work on the ‘what we do.’”
That fundamental installation paired with constant training nonetheless led Clemson to a national championship. But even after claiming their throne as number one, the Tigers understand only hard work can get them back to the big stage.
“You don’t get to stay at the top of the mountain,” Swinney said. “We’re right back at the bottom with everyone else.”
It might be a steady climb, but the dream chasing never ends.
“This is a new team, but we have the same dream,” Swinney said.
This ‘slogan’ was thrown around numerous times on the first day of fall camp. Renfrow is a firm believer in smaller goal setting.
“We got a shirt made that says new team, same dream,” Renfrow said. “And it’s not to win the national championship, that’s not our dream. Our dream is to hit our goals and follow our commandments as a team and if we do that day by day we will eventually reach a national championship.”
With a new team comes new faces. One new face in the spotlight is Kelly Bryant, on the prowl to secure the number one quarterback position.
“I just try to be myself and have fun with it,” Bryant said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest and not try to put too much pressure on myself, as well.”
Elliot was the first to comment on Bryant’s performance in practice, and it looks promising for the junior quarterback.
“The ball was coming out of his hand and it was where it needed to be, and the decisions looked like they were the right decisions,” Elliott said. “His confidence was there. I saw him pull it a couple of times, so I am anxious to see on the tape and validate what I thought I saw from the sideline.”
Have you ordered the 2017 Clemson season preview ‘Best is the Standard’ from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year? Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!