Expect defensive tackle Jordan Williams to play with a little bit of extra juice when Clemson resumes its 2020 football schedule after the open date this weekend.
Williams, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., was heavily pursued by Virginia during the recruiting process and strongly considered the Cavaliers before committing to the Tigers back in August 2016.
So, while Clemson tries to approach every game with the same mentality, Williams will have a little more fire in his belly when the Tigers take on Virginia on Oct. 3 at Death Valley following the bye week.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it for sure,” Williams said. “UVA was definitely a team that was really high on me in recruiting, and I was definitely high on them as well. It’s always cool playing against a team where you’re from. It just brings a different type of fire out of you in a sense. But it’s definitely going to be exciting. I’m definitely looking forward to it after the bye week.”
While Williams is eager to take the field again in a couple of weekends, he knows the open date came at a good time for the Tigers and they will benefit from the additional time to get more healthy as a team before its stretch of six straight games from Oct. 3 to Nov. 7. Clemson has another bye week on Nov. 14.
“It’s definitely something that we all need,” Williams said. “We’ve got a lot of guys banged up, guys that need to get back, a couple nicks and bruises we can take care of. But it’s definitely good that we have it early on. We’re going to have a little stretch coming up here in a minute before our next bye week, but I think it’s something that the team needs. It’s something that is going to help us grow and work together.
“But we’ve got to realize that this isn’t a week off – it’s just another preparation week, and then when we get back, it’s going to be hit the ground running getting ready for UVA.”
Williams entered this season having recorded 44 career tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 4.0 sacks, to go with two pass breakups and a forced fumble. The redshirt junior has played a lot of ball for the Tigers over the past couple of seasons after redshirting in 2017 (444 snaps over 27 games, to be exact).
But Williams, listed on the depth chart as a co-starter at one of the defensive tackle spots with Nyles Pinckney and Bryan Bresee, finally made his first career start in the season opener against Wake Forest on Sept. 12 – something he has been working toward for a while now and had to develop a different type of mindset in order to accomplish.
“I feel like I had to put more work in, and if I wanted to get where I wanted to get, I definitely couldn’t stay the same – I had to get better and improve,” Williams said. “I think that just becomes a product of starting. I feel like we have a lot of guys in the room that work very hard and are pushing each other, and we’re pushing each other and competing every day. But earning the starting spot, it was definitely exciting for me and important for me, and I feel like my hard work didn’t go unnoticed and it’s being recognized.”
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