While some guys don’t like playing behind someone else for much of their careers, others embrace it as a challenge. Clemson defensive tackle Albert Huggins is one of those guys who embraced it.
When Christian Wilkins announced he was returning to Clemson for his senior year last January, Huggins was probably affected by it more than anyone else. If Wilkins had gone pro like so many thought he would, then Huggins would have automatically move up to the starter position.
Huggins, who is also a senior, spent his first three years as a backup to Wilkins and Carlos Watkins on Clemson’s defensive front. Guys like Scott Pagano, Jabril Robinson and Sterling Johnson have transferred the last two years when they realized they would have to play behind Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence.
However, Huggins stayed and the Orangeburg native says he has no regrets, either.
During the 2017 season the defensive tackle had 21 tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and five quarterback pressures while playing in 13 games, which included two starts.
Though he knows it will be a difficult task Huggins is making it one of his goals to earn a starting spot this fall. He is currently listed as a co-starter with Lawrence at nose tackle and the No. 2 man, behind Wilkins, at defensive tackle.
“I would love to be a starter,” he said. “But if I don’t start I’m still going to go out there and get every rep I can. I don’t know where I am at right now, but I am aiming for being a starter.”
With Lawrence not doing any contact drills in the spring, Huggins was able to take more reps and prove himself to the coaches more.
“I felt like I opened a lot of eyes,” Huggins said. “It allowed the coaches to believe in me more than they already did so I felt like that was a good thing.”
As hard as Huggins has been working, he is going in with the mindset to enjoy whatever the 2018 season brings. Being his last one, he wants to make sure he enjoys it as well.
“Just play every rep to the fullest and don’t have a dull moment,” he said. “It’s been hard these past four years. It time to have fun. But be serious, and have fun with the rest of the guys.
“I’m getting a great opportunity and I need to take advantage of it. Just play every play to the fullest. When the ball is thrown, run to the ball. Try to get in on every tackle. Shine. When it’s your stage, shine.”
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