Nick Eason "overwhelmed with happiness" to be home
|Thursday, February 3, 2022, 1:00 PM- -|
CLEMSON - Nick Eason grabbed the microphone at Wednesday evening's Fort Hill Recruiting Wrap and looked out over the audience with a huge smile on his face. Dressed in a blue blazer over an orange shirt, he said, “My name is Nick Eason, and I’m home.”
A month ago, former defensive tackles coach Todd Bates announced his intention to join Brent Venables at Oklahoma, giving head coach Dabo Swinney another void on his staff. Swinney said he made a shortlist, but Eason was the first call he made. It wound up being the right call, as Eason recounted Wednesday.
“It was kind of just something that just kind of popped up out of nowhere,” Eason said during National Signing Day festivities. “I was actually getting ready to go in and eat brunch, and Coach (Swinney) had called me. I was sitting in the car, and he wanted to let me know that Coach Bates had left and I was the first guy he called to take the job. I was kind of just overwhelmed with happiness and really didn’t know what to say at the time.”
Eason was a four-year letterman for the Tigers from 1999-2002. In addition to being a team captain, All-ACC selection and Strength & Conditioning All-American, he was also a standout in all areas away from the game, earning a selection to the AFCA Good Works Team and becoming the first Clemson football player to graduate with two years of eligibility remaining after earning a degree in sociology in August 2001.
He later added a master’s degree in human resource development in 2008. Eason played 47 games with 35 starts for Clemson, recording 15 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. He was a two-time Dedication Award winner as awarded by the Clemson strength & conditioning staff.
Eason understands dedication, and he understands commitment. This means he wanted to make sure his players at Auburn were on board with his decision to return home.
“For me, I do care about my kids that I coach, and so those kids were important to me,” Eason said. “So, I had asked Coach to kind of give me some time to let me talk to the kids, make sure they were OK with me leaving. Because players don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care, and so that’s part of coaching, man. You have to love on your kids first as young men, and so that was important to me. So, I talked to them, and they were saying, ‘Coach, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to get to go back and coach at your alma mater.’ So, I got their blessings.”
Derek Mason was Auburn’s defensive coordinator last season – he’s now in the same job at Oklahoma St. – and the two started their relationship when Eason was an assistant coach with the Tennessee Titans and Mason was the head coach at Vanderbilt.
Eason also sought out Mason’s advice and received the same message.
“I had an opportunity to talk to coach Derek Mason...We’ve become very good friends,” Eason said. “He’s like my brother, and he kind of told me the same thing as well – that they would miss me, but not to pass up the opportunity.”
He didn’t, and at that point, he let Swinney know that he wanted to come back to Clemson and join his staff.
“And then I had another conversation with Coach Swinney. He was excited, I was excited. And it’s just been the joy and the love that I’ve received, not only from the Auburn fans when I left – they were very supportive of it – but the welcoming here from the Clemson fans has been out of this world,” Eason said.