During his senior year at Alabama, Todd Bates got the opportunity to know Lemanski Hall. Clemson’s newest on-field coach was the Crimson Tide’s leading tackler on its 1992 National Championship team, when he earned All-SEC honors.
“I’d see him in an out of the building all of the time, never knowing we would be coaching together one day,” Bates said.
Bates is entering his second season at Clemson after coaching the entire defensive line a year ago. With Hall’s promotion as an on-field coach in January, following the NCAA’s new rule to allow Division I programs to have 10 on-field coaches, means he and Bates will share the coaching duties on Clemson’s famous defensive line.
Hall, who spent the previous three years as a defensive analyst on Dabo Swinney’s staff, will coach the defensive ends, while Bates will coach the tackles.
“We’re going to work together closely,” Bates said. “I’ve known Coach Hall for a good while, back to his days playing before me at Alabama.”
Bates had a good first year at Clemson in 2017. As the full-time coach on the defensive line, he coached a group that was considered one of the best in the country. Defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, along with defensive tackle Christian Wilkins were all named First-Team All-Americans last year, while defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was a First-Team All-ACC selection.
The four combined for 25 sacks in 2017 and were a big reason why the Tigers led the nation in sacks last year with 46.
With Hall now coaching the defensive ends, Bates gets to turn all of his focus to the interior where he gets to coach Wilkins, Lawrence, Albert Huggins, Jordan Williams, Darnell Jefferies and Nyles Pinckney exclusively.
“Any time that you are able to specialize and really zoom in on one thing, you concentrate on it and get your guys a lot better,” Bates said. “You get to spend more time with them and that is a lot better. I’ve coached them all at times in my career and its good to know what everyone is doing so we’re trying not to lose that element of knowing what everybody is doing.
“You are that much better of a player when you know what your brothers are doing. So, that’s why we have to work hand in hand together, and also be able to specialize and spend that intimate time with your position.”
Bates is looking forward to working exclusively with Lawrence, Huggins, Pinckney and all of the guys on the inside, but he is especially excited to get one more season to coach Wilkins. Many believed Wilkins was headed to the NFL after his junior season, but the two-time All-American decided to return to Clemson for one more season back in January.
“I would do a split right now in honor of Christian. The kid is one of a kind,” Bates said. “What a great young man he is. A great leader, a great personality, and the thing a lot of people don’t know about him is just the effect he has on that room.
“He makes the room instantly better. He brings the same energy every day. That type of stuff is priceless. We are just ecstatic to have him back.”
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