From the first day of spring practice, redshirt sophomore Ruke Orhorhoro knew the Clemson defense was special
“We used to do explosion drills, and it would get heated here at 6 in the morning,” he said. “Me, Tyler (Davis), Tré (Williams), and Bryan (Bresee) would always compete no matter what it was and prove who was the fastest guy.”
After sustaining an injury in the Tigers’ season opener against Wake Forest last year, Orhororo missed most of the season, qualifying him for a medical redshirt. Orhorhoro collected three tackles in his first career start against Georgia this season and was credited with a team-high six tackles (two for loss) against South Carolina State over the weekend, sharing team defensive player of the game honors.
Becoming the first Clemson football recruit from the state of Michigan since 1975, Orhorhoro began playing the game later than most, only playing two years of high school football.
“It was pretty easy for me,” Orhorhoro said. “Playing basketball, I ran a lot, so the conditioning was always there. My high school was great at basketball and went to the state championship every year. That drive and passion for the game of basketball just translated to football, and I just fell in love with it.”
Orhorhoro highly considered making basketball his passion.
“I was pretty tall in middle school, and I thought I’d grow to be like 7 foot, but after my sophomore year, I just accepted that I wouldn’t grow anymore,” he said. “I just wanted to look for other opportunities.”
By no means is Orhorhoro small, currently weighing in at 6-4 and 300 pounds. However, the most challenging aspect of making the transition from basketball to football was preparing his body.
“The physicality is a lot different when you’re in the pads and it’s just you and the guy in front of you,” he said. “You’re trying to take his head off, and he’s trying to take your head off. It’s just a different mentality.”
He tried his hand at many positions such as receiver, tight end and linebacker before finding his niche in the defensive line.
“I was just going with the motions and doing whatever was best for my team. Wherever they needed me, that’s what I was going to do so it wasn’t that big of a deal,” he said. “I just fell in love with pass rushing and getting to the quarterback.”
Brent Venables’ defense has yet to allow an opponent to reach the end zone this season. Orhorhoro credits the chemistry among the defense to the dedication he saw out of his teammates after the disappointing loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff last year.
“I think everybody was just really self-motivated,” he said. “There was a different feeling in the air, and just seeing guys here after we came off that loss the next day working out, that just showed me that this team was going to be special and these guys were ready to handle some business.”