Lannden Zanders missed a pair of games in the middle of the season last year due to a shoulder injury but outside of Clemson nobody knew how bad the injury was or that the safety endured injury for the entire season.
The junior informed members of the media of that he dealt with injury from the middle point of fall camp throughout the season after he tore his right labrum and part of his rotator cuff. The injury proved serious enough to warrant surgery but after talking to the team doctors and coaching staff he decided to postpone the procedure and play through the pain.
“I got here and thought I was playing my best football but then I tore my shoulder in fall camp,” Zander said after Thursday’s practice at Jervey Meadows. “I was talking to the doctors and they said I would need surgery so all year I was mentally down, not really focused on football and just wanting to protect myself and that really affected my game.”
Zanders entered Clemson with high expectations and struggled at times last season to grow into his starting role at safety opposite Nolan Turner.
He showed flashes of his full potential last season and recorded 34 tackles, five tackles for loss, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a sack in 10 games and nine starts. Zanders admitted that he probably played at about 65-to-70-percent last season because he was worried about protecting his right shoulder that he estimated popped out of place at least once per game.
“Yeah, definitely I’m more of a head up guy now with my weight,” he said. “But with my shoulder last year I was favoring it and not trying to pop it out again, so it definitely affected me mentally and the way I make tackles.”
“I was trying to and I really messed up my angles and how I was coming down so it really got to me,” Zanders continued.
Zanders faced a scare at Notre Dame when he made a hit and messed up some nerves in his right shoulder. He said it caused his right arm to go limp which explains why he missed several weeks before making his return in the ACC Championship Game against the Irish.
But now Zanders is finally at 100-percent and added some weight as he weighed in at 217-pounds to start camp, up from 200-pounds in 2020. He’s ready to avenge his mishaps from last season and show Clemson fans and himself what he’s capable of when healthy.
“I know what I can do, I know last year wasn’t my best but I don’t have anything to prove to anybody I’m just going to go out there and play football like I know I can,” Zanders said.