Kyler McMichael knew his time was coming soon. He just didn’t know it was going to be this soon.
The Clemson cornerback from Atlanta, Ga., went into Saturday’s 27-23 win over Syracuse in the third quarter after starter Trayvon Mullen suffered an ankle injury.
The true freshman held his ground against Syracuse senior Jamal Custis, as Clemson limited the Orange’s top receiver to just 73 yards on five catches and no touchdowns.
“When I saw Trayvon go down I knew it was my time to step up,” McMichael said after the game. “I strapped my helmet up and came walking over because I knew something was up. Whether he was going to be out for the rest of the game or that time period I was ready.”
Although a little nervous, McMichael knew his coaches prepared him for the moment and it was nothing that he couldn’t handle.
“I definitely had the help of Coach (Mike) Reed and Coach V (Brent Venables),” he said. “I definitely stayed on that side of the sideline the whole game just to get their input and guidance throughout the game. That was very helpful.”
When McMichael got the call for his time to go in, he put on his helmet and went to work.
“I saw Trayvon go down and I was definitely nervous,” he said. “Coach Reed called on me and I strapped up. I was a little hesitant walking over but I was like ‘yeah I’m right here,’ so once I got on the field and got a few plays in I became more comfortable with it. But I was definitely nervous the first few plays.”
McMichael described Saturday’s experience as a “confidence booster” and is excited for his future. He knows he will continue to work hard and improve each day.
“It’s nothing but uphill from here,” he said. “Getting my play calls down, knowing my assignment, where to be. So it’s definitely a confidence booster that’s for sure.”
And confidence is exactly what the Tigers needed in Saturday’s game as it was an emotional week for all of them with quarterback Kelly Bryant announcing his decision to transfer this past Wednesday.
“It was definitely against us today, but we pushed through,” McMichael said. “We definitely prepared coming into it. Throughout the week, just dealing with everything that’s been going on, just pushing through it.”