Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata took questions from the media earlier this week as the top-ranked Tigers get set to host No. 12 Texas A&M Saturday (3:30 p.m.) at Death Valley.
Considering head coach Dabo Swinney has been raving about the freshman since his first day in practice last spring, Clemson fans have been waiting to see what the freshman can do.
Ngata touched on his mentality and focus as a player, being pushed to be better by his teammates, and who got him to where he is today.
Ngata on pre-game jitters
“Coach (Jeff) Scott and Coach Dabo) Swinney prepared me for that situation. Coach Swinney explained it to be ‘Just make it a practice. If you practice hard, it’s going to be like how it is in the game.’ I wasn’t really nervous. There’s not a lot of emotion going through when the ball’s in your hands.”
Ngata on what drives him to work so hard
“I’d say it comes from my parents and also within myself just knowing that a lot of people sacrificed a lot to see me here today. So, I can’t take that for granted. Just sending your son to college 3,000 miles away is a pretty big sacrifice.”
Ngata on how he dodged the “Freshman Wall”
“I had a lot of support from the wide receiver group, like Tee (Higgins), (Diondre Overton), Amari (Rodgers), Cornell (Powell), all of them. They were just encouraging me every day to just keep pushing, keep doing it. We were all struggling for a little bit in fall camp with the heat and everything, but we just kept pushing, trying to get better, and that just elevated our game.”
Ngata on how he made himself a standout amongst his elite peers in preseason practices
“It’s like playing a game every day. You can’t take a play off. You can’t lose focus in practice or A.J. Terrell is going to expose you or D.K. is going to expose you so you’ve just got to practice hard. Practice all the way.”
Ngata on his relationships with the team’s quarterbacks
“They’re all elite quarterbacks, even Taisun (Phommachanh) and Ben (Baston). Just having a relationship with all of them, even Trevor (Lawrence), makes being a receiver a lot easier because the ball is going to be where you want it to be a lot of times.”
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