Despite the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the 2020 college football season and whether teams will be able to play in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clemson senior linebacker James Skalski is proceeding as normal and viewing the season in his own way as he gets ready to play.
“I’m not really too concerned in my mind, man,” Skalski said Friday following Clemson’s second practice of fall camp when asked for his thoughts on whether there will be a football season.
“I’m out here one day at a time preparing like we’re playing. So, in my head you can’t tell me we’re not playing because that’s my plan right now. So, I’m not really worried about if it’s going to happen, if it’s not. I’m just taking it one day at a time and preparing like it is.”
While a lot of it is out of their control, the Tigers are committed to doing their part to have a football season.
Veteran leaders of the team like Skalski understand the importance of holding their teammates accountable and trying to make sure everyone sticks to the plan they have in place to stay healthy by wearing masks, staying socially distant, keeping the football facility clean, etc.
“It’s very important,” Skalski said. “If you’re a leader, people follow. One thing we do around here a lot is lead by example — walk the walk, talk the talk. So, just doing the right thing all the time and staying disciplined and not getting distracted and fighting for that season, literally, off the field — being very cautious, aware and just staying healthy.”
The pandemic has presented plenty of hurdles and difficulties for teams across the country including Clemson, which is looking to win a sixth straight ACC Championship and make another run at a national championship.
But the biggest challenge caused by COVID-19 for Clemson from a team standpoint, in Skalski’s opinion, has been building cohesion as a group because the players were away from each other for an extended period of time this spring and summer during quarantine.
“When you’re with your team all year and you get to train in the summer, the easiest thing to do then is to build chemistry,” Skalski said. “So, I think that’s been a challenge, just because you haven’t been physically with each other for so long, is building that chemistry. But we’ve had great meetings and I’ve been really happy with the strides we’ve taken. I feel like it has all come together nicely the first two days (of camp).”
Nobody knows for sure what this college football campaign will look like, or if it will even happen. But for now, Skalski is just happy to be back on the practice fields playing the game he loves.
“It felt good. It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Six months is too long if you ask me. So, it’s exciting to get out there and play ball. That’s all I want to do.”
Clemson masks are now available.
Please stay safe and get your officially licensed Clemson gear right here!