When Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant decided in January of 2018 they were returning to play football at Clemson for one more year, they all talked about how leaving their legacy on the program was one of their reasons for coming back.
They wanted to set the standard for years to come in Tigertown, especially on the defensive line. They did just that as they not only helped the Tigers win a second national title in three years, but they also helped the defense lead the nation in sacks, tackles for loss, yards per carry allowed and scoring defense.
Their legacy might benefit Clemson sooner rather than later. It’s what those three guys did, along with former defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, that’s motivated Clemson’s current defensive linemen.
“They taught us how to grind … grind in the weight room, grind on the field. How to get better day in and day out,” redshirt freshman defensive end Justin Mascoll said. “Just seeing their success and getting that feel on what it takes to be a part of that group, it has opened a lot of eyes and made us want it even more.
“We just want to get it even more and we grind every day and grind harder.”
Few, if any, have grinded harder than Mascoll. After redshirting last year, he had a stellar spring, consistently being singled out by head coach Dabo Swinney. His success carried over into fall camp, especially after he reported at 260 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than he was this time last year.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables lists Mascoll as a co-starter at defensive end and has praised his hard work and dedication to get better. He even recognized him for playing through pain in last Thursday’s final full scrimmage of camp.
With Wilkins, Ferrell, Lawrence and Bryant living out their NFL dreams, Clemson moves forward without them. And despite some people thinking the Tigers’ production will drop on the defensive line, Mascoll feels they will surprise their critics.
“We do not listen to the critics and we do not listen to what people have to say,” he said. “We just focus on us. Do our job and do our (work) and just compete day in and day out.”
And that’s exactly the kind of legacy Clemson’s Power Rangers want to leave behind.
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