Tuesday Insider: "Joyful" and "hard to handle" receiver Ajou a popular topic


by - Senior Writer -
Ajou rumbles for a score during the win over Georgia Tech. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Ajou rumbles for a score during the win over Georgia Tech. (Photo courtesy ACC)

Tuesday’s interview sessions with four Clemson players had nothing to do with this week’s game against Syracuse and more to do with Trevor Lawrence and freshman receiver Ajou Ajou.

Ajou, a physical specimen who scored his first collegiate touchdown in a rambling run Saturday at Georgia Tech, is far from a finished product when it comes to football and Lawrence said that Ajou “will be hard to handle” once his game is refined.

Clemson (5-0 overall, 4-0 ACC) takes on Syracuse (1-4, 1-3) Saturday in Death Valley (noon, ACC Network). Clemson defeated Georgia Tech 73-7 Saturday, while Syracuse lost at home to Liberty by a 38-21 score.

Here are some short notes from the interview sessions:

TE Davis Allen

*Loves to block. Says he likes to play physical. Played linebacker in high school and being physical comes with playing tight end at this level.

*First met Dabo Swinney when Swinney traveled down to Calhoun to visit Brannon Spector. That meeting led to a visit and camp and then an offer.

*Loves watching tight end Jason Witten. Says he thinks Witten has a great story, loves watching George Kittle and Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce and watching guys at that next level and how they do their thing. He likes to watch how they play their game.

*Had a lot of fun with the jumbo package and being on the field for that. Says that it’s every big mans dream to get a touchdown and they worked on it all week and went out there executed it and he was happy for Nyles Pinckney and he was happy for him.

QB Trevor Lawrence

*Says he grew up watching Peyton Manning. They text and keep in touch. He says that people say that Manning is his idol but that isn’t so because he doesn’t idolize anybody. Does wear 16 because of Manning, saying “yes and no” to the question. Says he loves the fact that Manning lives his life the way he wants to.

*Asked by a member of the NY media about his summer and advocating for college football to play. He said it was threatened that it would be taken away and they fought for it. As for social justice, he wanted to show his friends and teammates that he cares about them and understands what is going on in their lives that maybe he doesn’t have to deal with.

*Says he feels like his time at Clemson at fleeting and he wants to make the most of it, so he doesn’t think about the future or what NFL team will draft him.

*He says Hunter Helms is a great example of being a sponge and soaking up everything. He is always asking questions, remembers things really well. He picks up things quick and that is a great trait for a quarterback.

*Lawrence says that Etienne is more of a complete player this season. He sees a more mature Etienne.

*On Ajou Ajou, Lawrence says the freshman is funny. He hasn’t met anyone like him, loves to dance more than anyone he has ever met. Once he learns the offense and learns to be a technical player, he will be really, really, good. He is 6-4, 225 pounds and has muscle and can learn and jump. He will be “hard to handle” once he learns what he’s doing.

*Also loves what he sees out of EJ Williams. They started building a relationship during the summer.

*Says Clemson is such a great place and it’s understandable why they both (him and Deshaun Watson) chose to come here. He says Watson does great things on and off the field and is someone he can emulate, but they don’t talk football all that often.

*When he was asked about Frank Ladson’s drops, Lawrence defends his teammate and said they all make mistakes. “I missed some throws Saturday. He has had some big plays and will get better that for sure.”

WR EJ Williams

*Says he leans on his sister (who played professional basketball) to learn how to be a good teammate. She is his mentor.

*On the comparison to Justyn Ross, he says he really doesn’t get into comparisons. “He plays his game and I play mine.”

*He is now friends with Ajou Ajou and they love to dance. Says Clemson is a place where you can continue to have fun and ball out. He says Ajou is always happy and is never sad, a great person to be around.

*He says he is 195 pounds right now and is growing in every aspect of his game. He is learning the playbook as much as he can.

WR Cornell Powell

*He says it feels like a video game how well the offense is performing and they feel they can improve on their performance each week and they are the best in the country.

*Powell says he has been paying his dues over the years and knows the playbook in and out and that is helping with more playing time and leading this season. Says his confidence is at an all-time high and is ready to keep it going.

*He says his versatility and durability help him as a player to do whatever he is called on to do.

*Powell says Ajou is “joyful” and brings an energy to the locker room. He was shocked to see his measurables as a football player when he first met him and Ajou is serious about getting better.

*Powell says there’s a lot more to do and they have more ideas in showing Clemson’s solidarity with social justice movements. He says they won’t do anything that the whole team isn’t on board with and they bring everything in front of the team. He says having deep discussions and awkward conversations between teammates have been beneficial over this year.

*Powell says Tyler Grisham’s playing experience and energy has been “amazing” for coaching in his first year as position coach.

*He credits consistency and hard work with the Tigers’ long ACC winning streak since the loss at Syracuse in 2017.

*Powell says EJ Williams is going to be an “elite receiver in the coming years.”

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