In his first year at Clemson, freshman linebacker LaVonta Bentley got to play for and travel with a team that went 14-1, won an ACC Championship, beat Ohio State in a College Football Playoff semifinal and made it to the national championship game.
Even though it was a redshirt season for Bentley, he enjoyed it and feels fortunate to be in the position he is in.
“I’d say it’s like a movie,” Bentley said of his first year with the Tigers. “You know, it’s everyone’s dream. They want to be on this level, and it’s not easy to be here. So, I’m lucky to be here, I’m blessed, and I like it. I’m having fun.”
Bentley appeared in four games, making six tackles in just 10 total defensive snaps, and enjoyed getting a little bit of experience thanks to the redshirt rule that allows players to play in up to four games while still qualifying for a redshirt.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I like contact, so just to go out there and hit those guys, it was fun.”
While Bentley would have surely loved to see more action as a freshman, the Alabama native says he is “trusting the process” and understands it was good for him to take a step back and soak everything in.
“The redshirt, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “Just learning, sitting out, enjoying everything, having fun, but also learning. That’s the main thing right there, learning everything.”
Bentley’s decision to sign with the Tigers in December 2018 wasn’t based solely on football. It had a lot to do with how they could help him become a better man, and Clemson has been everything he expected it to be off the field, as well.
“I like what we do with P.A.W. Journey and everything, community service to give back,” he said. “That’s the main thing I like because it’s not just about football. When I first got here, when they explained everything to me and showed me everything, it’s what I thought.”
A former four-star prospect from Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, Alabama, Bentley had a strong senior year in 2018 with 118 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and four passes broken up and was named Birmingham’s Defensive Player of the Year.
What can Tiger fans expect to see from Bentley at linebacker starting next year?
“Like I said, I like to hit,” he said. “My tempo and my drive is different. I’m staying humble and everything, but my effort is relentless. So, the fans will see a great guy next year. I mean, I can’t say too much. Like I said, trust the process. I’m just staying humble.”
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