GREENVILLE, S.C. — When he watches Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence play, Michael Dean Perry can’t help but see the similarities.
The former Clemson star, who played 10 years in the NFL, sees his older brother William Perry when he sees Lawrence on the field at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
William burst on to the college football scene as a true freshman in 1981. He became a big part of Clemson’s defensive front and was a star from the moment he set foot in Death Valley. Later that year, he helped the Tigers win the program its first national championship.
In 2016, Lawrence burst on to the college football scene with a Freshman All-American season. At 6-foot-5, 340 pounds, he became a star thanks to his quick feet and hands and his raw athletic ability.
“Those guys have the same similar build,” Michael Dean said Thursday as he and William were guest speakers as part of the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame Legends speaker series at the Embassy Suites in Greenville. “They can move up and down that line. They can create chaos. They are very talented. The comparisons are justified.”
William finished his career at Clemson as the school’s all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss, marks Michael Dean passed a few years later. He was also Clemson’s first three-time All-American.
“Would he surpass William? We don’t know, but he has the makings to,” Michael Dean said.
Michael Dean spoke with Lawrence briefly last summer when he came to Clemson and spoke to the 2017 Tigers during fall camp. He told Lawrence, who is now about to begin his third year at Clemson, that he has the potential to better than him or his older brother.
“That is how much ability Dexter has,” Michael Dean said.
However, Michael Dean did express some concern for Clemson’s star Defensive tackle. In his first two seasons, Lawrence has battled weight issues off and on, and Michael Dean feels that could affect the talented star in the years to come if he does not get it under control.
He knows it all too well because he has watched it affect his brother his entire life. Of course Lawrence is currently recovering from a foot injury that has been nagging him since last season.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced before the start of spring practice on Wednesday that Lawrence will be wearing a green jersey (limited contact) the entire spring to help his ankle heal.
“The one thing my brother has always fought is his weight and that might be something Dexter needs to grab a hold of early so he does not run into these hiccups when it is his time to perform on the field,” Michael Dean said. “He is only going to get better and better if he stays in shape and watches his weight. That is the only thing that can slow somebody like that down.”