It’s how his star defensive line works, acts is what makes him proud
If a player wants to impress Brent Venables, he needs to do it on the field, not by being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
When the sports world’s premier magazine announced earlier this week that Clemson defensive linemen Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins were on the cover of its annual college football preview magazine, Venables did not care.
“I am not mad at them or anything. It is not a big deal,” Clemson’s defensive coordinator said. “I’m not frustrated by it at all. I’m like, ‘So!’ I’m not like, ‘Somebody go get me a copy! See if they will sign it!’ I’m not trying to be mad. They are being great guys.
“I don’t act like they not deserve to be honored for what hard work can do. They are humble, confident and good leaders and they do everything that we ask them. That being said, I rather all of that stuff be done with, but that is not their fault.”
Though Venables believes having his top players on defense on the cover of SI is good for the program, he wants them to keep it all in perspective, which it appears they have. Though Bryant, Ferrell, Lawrence and Wilkins were very appreciative of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, they were not overall excited either.
Ferrell even sounded like an extension of Venables, saying he was glad all that stuff was over with so they can focus on football.
Since Ferrell, along with Bryant and Wilkins, announced last January they were returning to Clemson for one more season, the Tigers’ defensive line has been hyped more than any other group in the country. They have appeared on just about every national preseason magazine and some are calling them the greatest defensive line ever assembled in the history of college football.
That might be a little too much, but that is what is out there. That is what the media and fans are talking about.
“I think they are a group of guys who can handle it,” Venables said. “We coach them every bit as hard as we coach anybody on this team and don’t look the other way for anything. We don’t celebrate nothing and they like it that way. I can say that, and sometimes that can be misconstrued.”
Venables said when Bryant, Ferrell and Wilkins announced they were coming back, they did not have some big party and say, “Why don’t you guys just come back and have some fun and we will get you to the game on Saturday. Thanks a lot for coming back!”
“That is not us. Everything is status quo,” he said. “If they were jerks, then you would quickly push them to the side and make examples of them. You can’t be bigger than the program. That starts with Coach (Dabo) Swinney and how he is. For us is not hard to manage for that reason. That’s how they are. They are very special.”
Since Bryant, Ferrell and Wilkins decided to come back to school, no one has worked harder than the Tigers’ four defensive linemen. All spring, all summer and so far in fall camp they have been busting their tails as if they were first-year players trying to make an impression on the coaches.
“However good we say what type of people they are, it is every bit of that. I mean that,” Venables said.