There is a reason why Dabo Swinney is called “Coach.” He has seen a thing or two in his nine years as an assistant coach at Alabama and in his 15 years at Clemson as both an assistant coach and the head coach the last 10 years.
Swinney has coached some big-time players with big-time personalities. So, having four guys on the defensive line, who could all quite possibly be first-round picks in next year’s draft, with big personalities does not bother him. He has coached those kinds of guys up before. That is a part of coaching.
Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant all returned to Clemson for one more season, teaming up with Dexter Lawrence to make up the “Power Rangers” for one more season.
The four, individually, have big personalities that move through the locker room and on the practice field. However, these four personalities rub off in a good way to their teammates, primarily because all four are best friends and do everything together. They want the best for each other and for their teammates.
“From time to time I say, ‘Hey! Let’s go!’ That is really all you have to say to those guys,” Swinney said. “They’re so good. They love to have fun off the field, but really they’re so easy on the field. They are motivated and relentless.”
That motivation definitely shows on the field and is a big reason why they combined for 25 of Clemson’s 46 sacks a season ago and also 45 of the team’s 109 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“They know everybody is paying attention as far as those young guys, and they care about that,” Swinney said. “They want to set a good example.”
That example is set every day in practice, in the weight room, the way they take care of their bodies and how they interact with their teammates. It’s not about them or the defensive line. It’s about doing what is best for the team and leaving a legacy for everyone to follow like those who came before them.
“They understand the great tradition here, and they understand that they have guys that aren’t just about themselves,” Ferrell said. “We’re all about each other. And I see those guys come in and be able to take constructive criticism and come in and work hard and make the progressions that they’ve made throughout the summer.
“Man, it’s been huge, and I love that about them. I’m very hard on them because I want the best for them because if I see the best coming from them, it’s only going to make me better.”
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