If Clemson wants to win another national championship this year, defensive coordinator Brent Venables believes there is a way to do it.
You need to have leaders on the team with an alpha dog mentality.
Clemson definitely has those kinds of players on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker James Skalski, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and cornerback Andrew Booth to name a few. These are guys that can talk the talk and walk the walk.
Leadership on offense is not so clear. D.J. Uiagalelei, of course, would be considered a leader because he is the quarterback, but this is his first year as a starter and he has to earn that status.
The Tigers are still looking for someone to lead the offensive line. Matt Bockhorst seems like the obvious choice, but he is currently in an unexpected battle to be Clemson’s starting center.
Justyn Ross seems like the most obvious choice, as wide receiver coach Tyler Grisham has talked about, the redshirt junior showed leadership, even when he was out all of last season with an injury.
“When you got guys like that, with that alpha dog mentality that makes everybody around them better, the team takes on (that persona),” Venables said. “Look at Tom Brady. Everything he has been a part of in his whole career, in both college and in the NFL, he makes everyone better. He does that with a simple, relentless, I-am-never-satisfied mindset. He is workman-like. You don’t hear a whole lot. He plays loud and he’s loud. That is what you want to emulate.”
Venables says he tries to do that as a coach and as a leader. He tries to keep things simple and has a balance portion of life.
“If you want to be great, man, you have to show up,” he said. “You know? With consistency, if anything. That is not easy to do. If it were, there would be a lot of incredibly successful people and teams. What happens is people get distracted. People lose their hunger. They lose their humility.
“You have to have broad shoulders to be a leader. It can wear you out. You have to be the bad guy. You have to point out the things that are not pleasing or pleasant. You can’t be afraid of that. That is a very lonely place sometimes. But we as a team, we will see what our maturity is like.”