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Clelin Ferrell steals the show at ACC Kickoff: Don't take the cheese


by - Senior Writer -
Ferrell talks to the media Thursday at the ACC Kickoff (Photo by Jeremy Brevard, USA Today)
Ferrell talks to the media Thursday at the ACC Kickoff (Photo by Jeremy Brevard, USA Today)

CHARLOTTE, NC – A rather boring afternoon at the ACC Kickoff was turned upside down when Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell took to the dais to speak to the media. From taking cheese to fussing at the media, Ferrell was the star of the show.

One of the four stars of Clemson’s defensive line, Ferrell sat patiently beside head coach Dabo Swinney while right tackle Mitch Hyatt took his turn in front of the microphone. Every time Hyatt was asked about the defensive line or Ferrell himself, Ferrell would stick his fingers in his ears to drown out the noise.

It was all part of the plan.

“You hit it right on the head. When I came in, Coach (Marion) Hobby, my old defensive line coach, and Coach (Todd) Bates, too, they always talked to us about not taking the cheese,” Ferrell said when asked if the gesture was meant as a way to drown out the noise. “Yesterday in the team meeting, Coach Swinney getting on us, ‘I hate seeing them old magazines. I hate that. It's all on paper.’ But they're right, though. I'm tired of seeing it, too. We're ready to just go out there and play and perform because that's what it's all about. I mean, people just keep asking us how good can we really be?

“I mean, I don't know. We're very talented, but I hope I get asked this question at the end of the season. That would be a better time to answer it. But yeah, that's basically it, not trying to listen to the outside noise because obviously, I know we're a talented group. But we're more so about the action, we want to walk the walk rather than just talk it; know what I mean?”

Ferrell ended the session the same way he started – with a bang. When asked if he had anything else today, Ferrell admitted he wasn’t done.

“Thank you all for being here, man. First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, yes indeed,” Ferrell said. “I want to thank Coach Swinney for picking me to come up here and represent the team, man. This has been great, seeing all you guys, answering all the questions. A lot of the questions are repetitive. Just saying. But man, it's been -- just saying, yes indeed. But yes, it's been great, man. It's been great. A lot of great people here, and this just lets me know that football is right back around the corner. I can't wait to get started. Let's do it.”

In between the beginning and the end, Ferrell was pure gold.

On Mitch Hyatt

“Oh, yeah, I mean, I already told him, because this is the second time somebody has asked me this question, man. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. I don't think there's been a battle the last three years in practice more than me and him. He's made me so much more of a better player, and I have a lot of respect because he's seen the success of it and the failures. He's been a starter since he's been a freshman. He's gone against Shaq and Kevin Dodd and getting whooped up on by them, I know that's tough because when you're a freshman you're not always the strongest guy, but he was going against those guys and making them better and them making him better.

“There's nobody on the team I have more respect for. He brings it every day. Just truly a great competitor, a hard worker, and isn't fake about it. Doesn't try to be the most vocal guy because that's not who he is, he just puts his head down and goes to work, and I know every day I've got to bring my best when I go to work or he'll expose me.”

The new redshirt rule

“Oh, man, it's crazy to me. It's something I haven't really formulated an opinion on yet. But I definitely see where it could have been used in my situation. If the coaches felt like I was ready to play toward the second half of the year that I redshirted, then, yeah, that would have been a great tool to have. Because like you said, Coach Swinney said, Shaq did get hurt. Shaq and Kevin Dodd both were beat up really bad, and it would have been great to have some more young guys get in there, take some of the slack off them. But again then, it's just weird. It's like any game, not even just regular season, like bowl games included, too, so that's like wow. I ain't even thought that they would make a rule like that. I don't know. I haven't really formulated too much of an opinion on it.”

What does it mean to have so many talented players returning?

“That means a lot, man, because obviously experience is huge in college football, just being able to have guys who have been there and know what it takes. Not even just have played in the game, but guys who have been to the pinnacle, guys that have played on the National Championship winning team before and know what it takes to get to that moment. That's huge to have in your room. But then again, though, it just brings more out of it because we have new guys coming in every year and we have young guys that we want to see it, as well.

“And our position rooms are very, very deep, know what I mean. And like Coach Swinney tells us all the time, you're not guaranteed to run out there first just because of what you did last year. You've got to go out there and earn it every single day, and that's something I love about it because that's how I got on the field. I had to go out there and compete with my peers in my position room when I was a redshirt freshman, to go out there and earn the starting job. So that's what you've got to do every day, so it's just going to bring the best out of all of us.”

The young defensive linemen like KJ Henry and Xavier Thomas

“Oh, my goodness. Man, they've been great. I've always wondered like with just the hype that our defensive line gets, the front four, and then you still have guys like the No. 1 player coming in or a KJ Henry who's regarded as a five-star. And people ask them why are you going to a school where they're already so-called deep in the defensive line. But it's because they know that they're not afraid to come in and compete. They understand the great tradition there, and they understand that they have guys that aren't just about themselves. We're all about each other. And I see those guys come in and be able to take constructive criticism and come in and work hard and make the progressions that they've made throughout the summer.

“Man, it's been huge, and I love that about them. I'm very hard on them because I want the best for them because if I see the best coming from them, it's only going to make me better. Know what I mean? So it's been great to see them and they're making great progress, so I'm excited for the fall, their first fall camp coming up. It's like a dad seeing his kid go to school for the first time, know what I mean? Because they look up to me because they feel like I have some knowledge that is valuable to them. So I'm happy that I can be able to share some things with them, so it's been really, really good to see.”

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