Chip on his shoulder


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DeShawn Williams makes a tackle in the ACC Championship game.
DeShawn Williams makes a tackle in the ACC Championship game.

CLEMSON – DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
So. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 290
Central, SC

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has had a chip on his shoulder almost since the time he could walk and talk.

He was never going to be good enough, tall enough or fast enough. He would never amount to anything. Williams heard the doubters, listened to his mother, and has used that chip to fuel his personal life and his football career through Daniel High School and now at Clemson.

Williams is in the mix at defensive tackle – he will likely be a starter this season – and said he has learned to take other people’s negativity and turn it into a positive.

“The chip comes from when I was little, and everybody was talking about how I wouldn’t amount to anything or be anything,” Williams said Wednesday. “My momma taught me about hard work. And this summer, the passing of my grandfather and my aunt have made me work even harder. All of us on the defensive line have a chip. Nobody knows us. Our names aren’t there. They don’t know us, and we want to make a name for us.”

Williams began to attract the attention of colleges while he was at Daniel High School, but was left off of the Shrine Bowl roster his senior year, another cut that hurt.

“It did. I remember when my coach came in and told me that I didn’t make the Shrine Bowl,” he said. “I was like, ‘What? Are you serious?’ But now, I don’t pay attention to any of that, but it is in the back of my mind that I have been overlooked my whole career. That keeps me working hard, and I won't get complacent, because I know that someone else can come in and take my job.”

Williams said he feels lucky that when he has questions or just needs someone to listen, he has the ear of his father – former Clemson running back Ronald Williams, who played for the Tigers in the early 1990’s.

“A lot of people know that he is my father but they don’t bring it up,” he said. “Sometimes I like hearing about it, and sometimes I don’t. I am my own person and I don’t like living in my dad’s shadow. He is always telling me to be my own person. He gives me a lot of advice – he knows what these hot dog days are like. He is always telling me to keep grinding, be my own person and everything will work out.”

Williams said he wanted to play running back when he was younger, but that was something he outgrew.

“I did, but my dad told me I was getting bigger and it probably wouldn’t work out” he said with a smile.
But people tell me I got my feet from him – I have quickness in my feet like he had. But I don’t miss playing running back, I will take the defensive line any day.”

Williams said that he and Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
So. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 295
Conyers, GA

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, Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 290
Wilmington, DE

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, D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-3, 305
Greensboro, NC

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and Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-4, 275
Forest City, NC

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take pride in playing their position the right way, even if that means sacrificing personal glory by occupying blockers so the linebackers can make plays.

“I don’t think people really understand – it’s nasty in the trenches,” Williams said. “It takes a lot of pride to play there, and you have to be strong. We take pride in holding the gaps and letting the linebackers fill them in. We take pride in seeing the linebackers come down and make plays in the backfield.”

In the meantime, he said that he and his fellow defensive tackles will continue to play with that chip on their shoulders.

“We do take a lot of pride in how play,” he said. “People don’t know us, but they will get to know us. We just have to keep working hard and keep that chip on our shoulders.”


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