Will Putnam got his first taste of victory as a starter for top-ranked Clemson this past Saturday at Wake Forest.
With only one returning starter on the offensive line this season in left tackle Jackson Carman, Putnam had the opportunity to make an immediate impact. The sophomore guard says that while he had some nerves going into Saturday’s game, those nerves quickly turned into excitement when thinking about his childhood dream finally becoming a reality.
“Yeah, I mean, I was definitely nervous,” he said. “I think that it’s kind of healthy to have some nerves because that means you care, but I think the sooner that game day approached, those nerves turned into some excitement. Just running out there first was kind of surreal because it’s what you’ve been working towards since you were a little kid. Just to go out there, it was really exciting, and I was happy we got the win.”
While the Demon Deacon’s defense was a good challenge for the Tigers’ young offensive line, Putnam says the defensive talent Brent Venables has put together at Clemson is what he believes prepares them for any opponent they face.
“Wake Forest, they’re a great team,” Putnam said. “They definitely had a very experienced front seven and we kind of planned for that coming into the game. But with that being said, I think we here at Clemson, we have a great defense. You know, Coach Venables, he does all sorts of stuff, so I think there’s nothing that other teams do that we don’t see at practice. And like I said, Coach Venables is an amazing coach and the other d-linemen we play against, linebackers we play against just at practice, here alone, is some of the best competition we are going to get in the country.
“I think being able to go day in and day out going against those guys, it really prepares us for whatever opponent we play against.”
The Tampa, Fla., native is thankful for the opportunity to practice against some of the best defensive players in the country, but come game day, Putnam said he is thankful to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside them on the Clemson sideline.
“Yeah, I’m definitely happy that on gamedays they are wearing the orange and white, that’s for sure,” he said. “At the same time, it’s good having to go against those guys at practice, even in season when we’re not maybe doing as much as we did preseason because you know, ‘iron sharpens iron’ and getting that good work with them is amazing.
But come Saturday’s, I’m very glad they’re on our sideline.”
Heading into the first home game of the season along, Putnam is looking forward to lining up alongside some of the best offensive players in the country. For him, having the opportunity to start and be a part of this year’s team is something the sophomore won’t ever forget.
“I’m really excited. As Coach [Dabo] Swinney says, you know with everything going on, every game day from here on out is basically our opening game day,” Putnam said. “And we have to treat it as such, and I’m really excited to go out there. I mean, I’m playing next to some of the best offensive linemen in the whole league, blocking for the best quarterback in the league, blocking for the best running back in the league and being able to run out there first and be a part of that means something really special and something I personally don’t take for granted.”