'Dr. Strange' embracing chance to bring more weirdness to Clemson's defense

'Dr. Strange' embracing chance to bring more weirdness to Clemson's defense

Football

'Dr. Strange' embracing chance to bring more weirdness to Clemson's defense

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While talking with local reporters Wednesday, K.J. Henry revealed a nickname for one of his fellow defensive linemen at Clemson.

“Dr. Strange,” Henry said when Justin Mascoll’s name was referenced. “Yes sir.”

So what’s the story behind it?

Turns out it has nothing to do with the Marvel Comics character. Mascoll, one of Clemson’s talented defensive ends, has played 833 snaps over 39 games heading into his senior season, but it’s the weird ones, as Mascoll described it, from which the moniker has been derived among his teammates.

“That just goes back years of playing,” Mascoll said. “Strange things happen when I’m on the field, in a good way. I’m just always ready to make that big play, I feel like.”

Mascoll referred to Mario Goodrich’s pick-six in Clemson’s Cheez-It Bowl back in December as Exhibit A. With Clemson holding a 13-3 lead on Iowa State late in the third quarter, Mascoll jumped in an attempt to knock down Brock Purdy’s second-down pass. The ball bounced off Mascoll’s helmet and back to Purdy, who batted it forward into the hands of Goodrich. Clemson’s senior cornerback took it to the house for what proved to be the decisive score in the Tigers’ 20-13 win.

“I feel like that was a really big moment, a turning point in the game, getting that batted ball and (Ma)rio coming up with the play,” Mascoll said. “And coming back down and making a block so that Rio can make the play.

“I feel like those are really, big, key moments, and a really, big, key moment that took place. I feel like that’s why they call me Dr. Strange.”

Mascoll is expected to get even more chances to create those plays than usual early this season with Xavier Thomas sidelined with a foot injury. Mascoll was listed as a co-starter at defensive end on Clemson’s first depth chart released ahead of the team’s Labor Day opener against Georgia Tech, though that didn’t come as much of a surprise.

While Henry and star junior Myles Murphy are likely to be the first defensive ends on the field against the Yellow Jackets, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has said he feels like the Tigers have four starters at the position, which includes Mascoll.

His teammates are also high on Mascoll’s ability, which includes more than his physical talent. Henry said the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder has always brought physicality to the position, but it’s the strides Mascoll has made mentally that has Henry believing his teammate is primed for his most impactful season yet with the Tigers.

“I think where he’s grown in his game is the mindset and the IQ of it all,” Henry said. “I think everybody comes in with certain challenges when they first get here. I was more of a physical stature and aggression. Really had a good feel for the game. But for some people, and I think Mascoll would agree, it was just hit you and then make a play. But there are so many small things that go into making those plays and being in the right places. And I’d say other than his leadership and his ability to speak up when he feels like something is off, I’d also say his IQ and feel for the game has been something that’s made this (defensive ends) room better.”

Mascoll is embracing the chance to bring more weirdness to Clemson’s defense, whatever that may entail.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me,” Mascoll said.

Dear Old Clemson is excited to announce a limited edition football and poster signed by Clemson’s Avengers.

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