Along with Clemson’s 49-0 shutout over The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday, linebacker James Skalski had even more to celebrate.
The veteran returned a Citadel fumble for the Tigers’ fourth touchdown of the afternoon. Skalski has been envisioning this moment ever since last season’s game against Texas A&M.
“I don’t know if y’all remember last year, but I botched a fumble recovery against Texas A&M,” he said. “So, I knew I had to redeem myself when I got the chance again.
“Whenever you play a triple-option (offense) when you’re a linebacker, you envision that happening. So, I had it in my head, it was going to happen. [Myles] Murphy made a good play and I scooped and scored.”
Skalski wasn’t the only one on Clemson’s defense who had an exciting afternoon at Death Valley. The Tigers’ defense produced its first shutout in four years, which is something Skalski says has been a long time coming.
The Sharpsburg, Ga., native says many of the talented rookies like Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy remind him of defensive greats like Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Being part of a competitive defensive group has been a dream come true and is what pushes the veteran to continue working towards greatness.
“I’ve made this comparison before, I can remember when I was a true freshman seeing like Dexter [Lawrence] and Christian [Wilkins],” Skalski said. “Christian was a sophomore, and as linebackers, you don’t get touched. There is so much worry about those two because they can cause so much damage.
“We got dudes upfront that will cover you up and it just helps everyone. Not just those two young guys, but the whole D-Line has been playing very, very well. It’s very competitive every week at practice and that’s all you can ask for as a player is a competitive group that pushes you to be better.”
With two wins and a touchdown under his belt, Skalski says he’s excited to see how far this team will go this season and the sky is the limit for this talented and young defensive group.
“My goal is really just one game at a time and to continue as a team with chemistry and cohesion, just getting better every day, especially next week with our bye,” he said. “We gotta get better, we gotta know that we’ve made strides as a team and, you know, just keep getting better and better because we are so young and we’re already really good being that young.
“The ceiling for this group is so high and I am really excited to see how far we can go and that’s on us. It’s up to us at the end of the day.”