Clelin Ferrell feels this has been the longest offseason of his Clemson career, and he can’t wait until 12:20 p.m. Saturday, when the Tigers will kick off their 2018 campaign against Furman at Death Valley.
But with that said, the redshirt junior defensive end has tried to embrace the long offseason and big buildup to what he hopes will be a special season.
“People want to know about us, just want to know what we’re going to be like this year. They want to see how we’re going to respond after the loss from last year,” Ferrell said. “It’s been probably the longest [offseason], but it’s one that you kind of just enjoy because you know that you’re on the verge of something special if everything goes right.”
Clemson is ranked No. 2 in both the preseason AP and Coaches Polls, and the Tigers have been a popular pick by pundits to make the College Football Playoff and win the national championship.
There has been no shortage of excitement and hype surrounding the team entering the season, especially with regard to the front four. Clemson’s defensive line, which has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and a number of other national magazines this offseason, is the first in NCAA history to have four returning players who have been a first- or second-team All-American previously in Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant.
However, despite all of the praise the Tigers have gotten from the media and others this offseason, Ferrell believes the team still has something to prove internally following last season’s loss to Alabama in the CFP Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.
According to the All-American defensive end, Clemson has unfinished business to attend to this year.
“I would definitely say that we have a lot of things that we want to prove — not to others, but to ourselves,” Ferrell said. “We felt like we left things on the table last year, and I feel like we’ve got a big chip on our shoulder to go out and prove ourselves.”
Though the expectations are massive, Ferrell says the Tigers aren’t feeling extra pressure to live up to the hype.
“There are not really any enormous expectations that come from outside sources. It’s really the expectations and the standard that we set here,” said Ferrell, who has seen Clemson win 40 games, capture a national championship and appear in the Playoff three times in his first three years with the program.
“You’re expected to go out and play well. … That’s a lot of pressure I guess you could say, but when you know that you’re talented enough to do that and you put the work in behind it, I feel like the confidence just comes through that. So, I feel like we see it as an opportunity, not so much as a challenge.”
The long offseason will officially end for Clemson when Saturday rolls around, and Ferrell couldn’t be more ready to start this season that the Tigers have been looking forward to since their last season ended in January.
“We can’t wait,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been working for ever since the day after the Sugar Bowl loss. So, I’m excited. I can’t wait.”