Pollard’s new attitude has the senior heading into camp first on the depth chart at center
Sean Pollard had been telling Robbie Caldwell he could play the center position, but Clemson’s longtime offensive line coach was not quite sure. Then one day, while the Tigers were preparing for last year’s Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame, he needed some one to play center because some of the other guys were graduating that afternoon.
So, Pollard got his chance.
“It was fun,” Pollard said.
It was not only fun, but Pollard did well. He even moved over from his guard position and took a few snaps at center in the Tigers’ 30-3 win over the Irish at the Cotton Bowl Classic last December in Dallas.
“I showed what I could do, and I think that was enough for them,” Pollard said.
It was enough that the coaches permanently moved the senior to the center position in the spring, having him battle with junior Cade Stewart for the right to replace two-time All-ACC center Justin Falcinelli.
“I have made mistakes. It is definitely challenging,” Pollard said. “Justin was an All-ACC center for two years. So, trying to replace him is definitely challenging. Me and Cade are battling, so you definitely have to come out here and be your best. There are no off days.”
Because he has played both the tackle and guard positions, the transition of playing center has not been too difficult for the 6-foot-5, 315-pound graduate.
“I think it helps that I know what everyone else is doing,” Pollard said. “I can kind of see from a tackles perspective what he is looking at and from a guard’s perspective. Knowing what everyone is doing definitely helps me because I have to direct traffic. Knowing what everyone is going to do, is going to help me make calls.”
Pollard admits it also helps having veteran players like John Simpson and Gage Cervenka playing the guard positions next to him. He says he can lean on Cervenka because he has played the center position as well.
It also helps having defensive coordinator Brent Venables on the practice field moving his defense around, standing defensive linemen up and trying to confuse Pollard during good-on-good drills.
“Coach Venables will show you everything in his book on the practice field. It makes you become a veteran will quick at a position that you are new at,” Pollard said.
The biggest challenge Pollard had this spring was challenging himself, especially with his overall mood. In the past, he admits he has gotten down on himself and that is something he worked on, personally, in the spring.
“I told myself I was going to have a better mentally and a better mood overall. Everyday, I just try to work on it,” he said. “Playing center is a new position and I don’t always have a good day, but I just try to have a good mood and overall it is a fresh new start. New position, new Sean.”