SAN JOSE, Calif. – Clelin Ferrell got choked up at College Football Playoff National Championship Game Media Day Saturday as he began to realize he is getting ready for his last game with his best friends on the defensive line.
Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant entered Clemson as members of the 2015 signing class and hit it off instantly. Since then, they have played in four CFPs, are set for their third national championship game and earned themselves the nickname “Power Rangers” because of some goofy Halloween costumes.
Second-ranked Clemson plays No. 1 Alabama for the fourth consecutive season on Monday. Both teams enter the game undefeated behind balanced offenses and dominating defenses.
The defensive line faces their toughest challenge of the season in the Crimson Tide, but they are ready to go out with a bang in Levi’s Stadium on Monday.
Those three combined for 25 sacks on the season and the Clemson defense ranks first nationally in yards per carry allowed giving up just 2.58 yards per rush. The last four years the unit has ranked top-10 nationally in total defense and allowed just 12.9 points per game in 2018 (2nd).
Tears filled Ferrell’s eyes as he talked to the media about the significance of playing his last game with his best friends in just a few days.
“It means a lot because we came in together and we want to go out together. We know it’s the last time our defensive line will be on the field together,” Ferrell said. “I’ve been trying not to think about it, trying not to tear up right now.”
A consensus All-American, Ferrell is ranked fifth nationally among active-FBS players in career sacks with 27 as a Tiger. He leads the team in both sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (18.5) and found extra motivation for his final game with the Power Rangers.
“That adds a little motivation because I haven’t really thought about it that way,” he said. “We try to be the best we can be for each other and we always play for each other,” Ferrell said.
Defensive end Austin Bryant finished the year with 13.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and 11 quarterback hurries in 2018. He lived in the backfield and kept opposing quarterbacks on the run.
Bryant put exponentially more stock in the relationships with his friends up Fremont than the outcomes of the games he plays. But, he is ready to return to the biggest stage in the CFP National Championship Game.
“It means the most, what’s most important isn’t the games we win but the people we do it with,” Bryant said. “We will remember the relationships with our teammates for the rest of our lives.”
Unanimous All-American Wilkins hasn’t thought much about his last game with his friends either and just like Ferrell got emotional talking about his final days with the Power Rangers.
“I’ve tried to do a good job all year of appreciating my teammates from the young guys to the old guys,” Wilkins said. “I’m trying to make sure I take advantage of it and make the most of it because it’s not going to be like this ever again.”
The Power Rangers take the field for the final time Monday at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN aiming to claim the third national championship in Clemson football history.