A lot of defensive end coaches across the country would love to be in Lemanski Hall’s shoes.
Hall, who was named Clemson’s 10th full-time assistant coach in January, has no shortage of big-time talent to work with as Clemson’s defensive ends coach. Not only does he have established stars and leaders like Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant in his room, but he also has plenty of youthful talent to go with them, including highly touted true freshmen Xavier Thomas, K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll.
The Clemson Insider sat down for a one-on-one interview with Hall at Dabo Swinney’s media golf outing last week, and he went in-depth on the trio of freshmen D-ends.
TCI: How has your relationship with Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry developed since they arrived to campus in January?
Hall: “It’s been good. I had them this spring. We worked together this spring. I didn’t recruit those guys, so they had a relationship with Coach (Todd) Bates and Coach (Brent) Venables. They didn’t know me at all, just from the couple times we met during recruiting. But they’ve embraced me. They know that I’m their coach and I want what’s best for them, but they have to earn it every day. There’s an accountability that we all have, and it’s my job to make sure that my segment, my position group, is ready to play.
“So, they understand that. I’m not going to play them because they’re five-stars. They’ve got to earn the right to play, and that happens throughout practice each and every day. I expect those guys to continue to work hard. They’ve done that. They’ve gotten bigger, they’ve gotten stronger, they’re doing well in the classroom academically. They’re not doing anything off the field that’s wrong. They’re from good families, so I’m very proud to have them in my room.”
TCI: You recently welcomed Justin Mascoll to the fold in late June. How have the early reports on him been?
Hall: “Justin has done a great job in terms of just coming in and working hard in the weight room. He’s gained weight, and I knew that about him anyway, just watching him from afar. But he’s been great, man. He has exceeded my expectations in terms of his work ethic, want to be great. I love his desire to learn from the other guys, and he’s done that. I’m excited to see him work this fall.”
TCI: Where would you like Thomas, Henry and Mascoll to be at weight wise by the time the season starts?
Hall: “I don’t put a whole lot into weight because the kid’s going to get bigger. It’s going to happen. Some guys develop later. I developed later in my career weight wise, so I don’t worry about that. I just want those guys to follow the system, do what you need to do in the weight room, and all the other stuff will take care of itself.”
TCI: What is it like to have three freshmen defensive ends as talented as those guys, knowing you’re going to have them for the next three to four years?
Hall: “It feels great, man. You get a group of guys like that you want, and you see like man, these guys are really good. For me, it’s just to make sure I don’t mess it up, that I develop them and do the best that I can to help them be great. But ultimately it’s up to them to do that. I just have to set the foundation and let them do what they do.”
TCI: What’s their ceiling; how good can they be?
“They can be great. They can be some of the best ones to come through. But it’s going to take a tremendous amount of effort on their part, a desire and a work ethic, which they have, and a want-to, which they have. The example has been set for them — now it’s just a matter of them just taking it on and embracing it and going forward.”
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