After redshirting his first year at Clemson in 2015, Tanner Muse became a consistent contributor on the Tigers’ special teams last season while showing well in limited time at safety.
However, when reviewing game film from his redshirt freshman season, Muse didn’t like what he saw, at first.
“He ain’t no good, really. That’s what I kind of thought in the back of my head, like what is he doing out there,” Muse said, laughing. “But now, looking back, I knew I had to take those steps to get better and better. So looking back at it, I kind of cherish it. I didn’t know as much as I do now.”
Muse recorded 24 tackles, including 10 on special teams, in 106 snaps across 15 games last season. He earned a share of Clemson’s Special Teams Defensive Player of the Year honors with Chad Smith.
The native of Belmont, N.C., is now listed as Clemson’s starting free safety after shining in the secondary during spring practice, and he has enjoyed running with the first-team thus far in fall camp.
“Being able to go from a redshirt year to when you’re actually getting a little playing time and being able to connect more with the guys, you’re in the team meetings more, the segment meetings, so it’s a lot different perspective,” Muse said. “And then this year, being on the field with the first guys is a lot of fun, just being able to go out there and get the feel of what they did last year and then being able to take part in it this year.”
Muse is one of the fastest players on the team. He ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at 225 pounds this summer, and showcased his dynamic ability against Syracuse last season when he returned an interception 64 yards for a touchdown.
This offseason, Muse focused on improving a couple aspects of his game in particular.
“My footwork and getting my hips to where I can open up my hips up more and being flexible,” he said. “One of the downfalls of my game is being a little bigger and not being able to open my hips in one-on-ones and coverage-type things. That’s probably the biggest thing, transitional movement.”
By the end of last season, Muse was much more comfortable on the field than he was at the outset.
In the national championship game against Alabama, he logged seven snaps at safety and posted two tackles, including one on special teams. He also blocked a punt in the Tigers’ 35-31 victory.
“I was ready, I was prepared,” Muse said of the title game. “I felt good. We had that whole week to prepare, and I felt good about it. I did the best I could, and it was a great experience coming off the special teams and punt return, and I just felt at home.”
Now, Muse feels confident and ready to take on a bigger role as a redshirt sophomore in 2017.
“Going back and watching my old game film, (I saw) every game progressing a little better,” he said. “Just being able to get used to it and being out there under the lights with all the people is a huge boost to where I am now.”
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