This is big boy football.
Dabo Swinney joined the set of ESPN’s College GameDay ahead of Clemson’s marquee matchup against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (NC.) at 7:30 p.m.
Swinney talked about D.J. Uiagalelei and Justyn Ross, but first, he touched on the great crowd that surrounded the set in Charlotte’s Romare Bearden Park.
“This is what we missed was the roar of the crowd,” Swinney said. “It’s what we missed. We’re thankful we got to play last year, but man, there’s nothing like the roar of the crowd of college football…This is what it’s all about.”
Kirk Herbstreit asked Swinney about the Tigers’ rich history under center and what he wants to see out of Uiagalelei. Clemson was able to replace Tajh Boyd with Deshaun Watson, and then shortly after came Trevor Lawrence and so on and so forth. Now, it’s Uiagalelei time.
“I just want to see what I’ve seen on the practice field and see him play with great confidence,” Swinney said of Clemson’s starting quarterback. “He’s unbelievable. He’s put the work in, as well as the preparation. And just executing within the system, don’t try to do too much. It’s one of those games where you may try to do too much from time to time, especially as a young player. Trust the players around him and then respond.
“It’s been a long time since we played football and this is big boy football. This is heavyweight. There’s gonna be some adversity. So, respond in a positive way and respond to success too. I think both of those things are very important for a young guy getting going.”
Talking about responding to adversity, Desmond Howard made sure to bring up Ross’s name.
He’ll be back in the fold for the Clemson Tigers after missing all of the 2020 season due to a congenital spinal issue that required surgery in June of 2020. Ross was cleared to play full contact football by his doctors this past June and was given the green light by Clemson University just prior to the start of fall camp.
“That’s asking if I can reincarnate C.J. Spiller today and put him back in the backfield,” Swinney said in response to Howard’s question regarding Ross. “He’s just a special football player. He just makes everything better. He’s just a matchup problem. He’s incredibly competitive. He’s special as a player. So, that’s what he brings to the game, but then it’s who he is as a person. It’s what he brings to the locker room. It’s that edge he brings from a personality standpoint. And then it’s what he’s been through. It’s toughness. It’s the living, breathing example of perseverance. What it looks like. You want to know what it looks like? Look at that guy.”
Swinney reiterated that Ross brings so much more to the table than being a very good football player. His joyfulness and competitive edge are infectious. He’s certainly a leader in that locker room and someone younger players look upon.
Speaking of the reincarnation of Spiller, Rece Davis mentioned Will Shipley as a possible candidate. Swinney couldn’t help but crack a smile.