CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Freshman standouts were ready when called on for Clemson's defense
Freshmen have made a huge impact for Clemson defensively this year, including four picks versus Georgia Tech and TJ Parker (12)'s emegence on the D-line.

Freshman standouts were ready when called on for Clemson's defense


by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Clemson’s 42-21 victory against Georgia Tech would not have been possible without the young players on defense making an impact early and often.

Freshmen Tiger defenders accounted for all four of the defensive turnovers in this game, including the second straight game with an interception for redshirt freshman safety Kylon Griffin. Players like true freshman cornerback Shelton Lewis attribute this success from the rookies to the veterans that have helped them learn and grow so they could be prepared for when it was their time to play.

“Just the older guys taking us through the preparation, making sure we (are) good so when they (are) not playing, we (are) able to get in and fill the shoes of them,” Lewis said. “So, just thankful for the older guys here - (Sheridan Jones) and Nate (Wiggins), (Jeadyn Lukus), (Toriano Pride Jr), just taking the road behind them and just soaking up everything so when we get in the game, we all good.”

It all comes back to Clemson’s next-man-up mentality for Lewis and other freshmen. All of these players are hungry to play, and the veterans have helped these young players develop the necessary mentality and preparation to succeed.

“Just coming in with that hunger, knowing that we wanted to contribute to the team and knowing that the older guys came back to kind of help pour into us,” Lewis said. “So, just knowing that we got the intangibles that we need to make plays.”

One of the four interceptions for the defense came from Lewis, and he was able to return his 46 yards for a touchdown, extending Clemson’s lead to 42-7 at that point. Lewis saw the ball coming his way and knew he had to make the play in that situation. Further, the game-planning leading up to the game helped him get the pick.

“I saw that ball come out of his hands, and it was, ‘You got to make the money,’” Lewis said. “So, just knowing the situation, just play the sticks, don’t get flat-footed, knowing that we had a great d-line to get the ball out quick. So, just making sure that I play good technique and drive the receiver.”

Another interception came from true freshman cornerback Avieon Terrell. Terrell, the younger brother of former All-Pro Clemson cornerback and now starter for the Atlanta Falcons, AJ Terrell, had an incredible one-handed interception in the third quarter. Terrell explained he had joked with fellow true freshman, wide receiver Tyler Brown, that because Brown had an amazing one-handed catch of his own, Terrell needed to as well.

“He told me, he came to the sideline, that I need to get me one, and I told him I got him,” Terrell said. “So, it was just crazy that it happened. I tried to go up with two hands, but … he had my other arm, so I couldn’t really get my other arm up.”

Perhaps the most important part about this game was that it was Military Appreciation Day. As part of this historic day, redshirt junior Blackmon Huckabee Jr sang the National Anthem, which was truly an honor for him.

“Honestly, it was just an honor to do it in that venue and to be able to pair the two things that I love the most - football and music - together on that stage for this team in front of those fans, I’m speechless … I was almost in tears,” Huckabee Jr said.

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