After missing the final four games of the 2017 season, Clemson linebacker Tre Lamar itched to get back onto the field and help his team.
The junior jumped off to a great start in last year’s campaign, registering 52 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and four sacks in eight starts over the course of 10 games.
Now as second-ranked Clemson prepares to take the field Saturday against Furman in the season-opener at Death Valley, Lamar is slated to start at middle linebacker.
“Standing out there for this first game, knowing that I did all of my rehab and put in all the work to be back will be the best feeling in the world,” said Lamar.
The long wait has finally drawn to an end as Lamar and the Tigers run down the hill Saturday to begin a new season. Lamar knows he is a different player than a year ago and has a unique opportunity to showcase his talent.
“My freshman year I had a hard time grasping things. I’ve worked really hard to be a better player and a better man,” Lamar said. “I’ve become a field general and really know what I’m supposed to do.
“There has been huge growth in me and the coaches have told me they see it, so Clemson has done a great job in preparing me.”
Lamar will have a lot of help as opposing offenses grapple with who to double team in Clemson’s front seven. The depth of the Tigers’ defense, particularly in the box, makes life a little easier for Lamar who may slide a little under the radar on opposing scouting reports with the likes of Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins clogging up the middle of the field.
That is a thought that has Lamar licking his chops.
“Those guys deserve all that pub. They earned it and obviously it makes life a lot easier for me and Kendall (Joseph),” he said. “We love those guys, and everybody wants there shine so let’s start the season and see what happens.”
The threat of four All-Americans on the defensive line means fewer double teams for Lamar, increasing his vision and ability to make plays.
“When you have guys like Dexter and Christian in the middle, they require double teams all the time which doesn’t allow a guard to combo up on me. It clears up my vision and my gaps are so much easier to get to.”
Lamar’s best example of this from 2017 is his fumble causing sack on Florida State quarterback Justin Blackman. When space freed up after double teams up front left an open gap for what Lamar calls “my best play I’ve ever made,” he smacked Blackman to the ground, while forcing the ball loose at the same time.
He also recovered the loose football.
Look for more of the same this season because Lamar has a unique opportunity to shine on a defense that is loaded with talented players.