A former Clemson standout is coming back home.
Nick Eason, a defensive end for the Tigers from 1999-2002, is joining Dabo Swinney’s staff to help coach the defensive line as the replacement for Todd Bates, who spent five seasons coaching the Tigers’ defensive tackles before recently joining Brent Venables’ staff at Oklahoma.
The opportunity to return to Clemson is a dream come true for Eason, who spent this past season as the defensive line coach at Auburn, his first job back in college after a lengthy career playing and coaching in the NFL.
Eason told The Clemson Insider back in April 2018 — when he was an assistant with the linebackers and defensive line at Austin Peay — that if Swinney ever gave him the chance to coach at Clemson, he wouldn’t hesitate to accept the job.
“I’m there. That’s a no-brainer,” Eason said. “Having an opportunity to come back, that would be a dream come true. I would be more than happy to come back to Clemson, when given an opportunity. But Coach Swinney’s done a really good job since he’s been there, tremendously. The coaching staff is awesome, and had an opportunity to spend some time with them a couple weeks ago. The facilities are immaculate, they’re the best in the nation. But yeah, that’s home for me. Given an opportunity, absolutely.”
After his career at Clemson, Eason played 10 seasons with four different NFL teams before starting his coaching career as an assistant defensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns in 2013.
He also coached with the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals before being hired at Auburn, where he helped coach second-team all-SEC lineman Derick Hall this season.
After an all-ACC senior season at Clemson, Eason was selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and played for the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals until his retirement following the 2012 season. He went to two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh and was a member of the Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII title team.
Eason has experienced a lot in his career, both as a player and a coach. But in 2018, before Clemson won another national championship that season, Eason told TCI that seeing the Tigers win the national title at the conclusion of the 2016 season was like winning it all himself.
“It was amazing for me,” he said. “I watched the game. I didn’t have an opportunity to be there. But I watched the game at a restaurant/bar in Nashville, and there were probably 80 Alabama fans and about five people that were rooting for Clemson, and I think the other four were rooting for Clemson because I was rooting for Clemson. And I really showed my butt. I was celebrating as if I was there.
“It was the most amazing moment for me. Them winning it all, it was winning it all for me as well. If you would have been there and saw me, you would have thought that I won it all myself. But just very proud of what the program has done, and looking forward to big things coming up this upcoming season.”
You can watch Eason’s exclusive interview with TCI prior to the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Greenville, S.C., in April 2018:
–Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Clemson Variety & Frame is doing their part to help bring you some classic new barware and help one of the local businesses that helps make Clemson special.
Order your Nick’s barware and do your part to help. #SaveNicks