Emotional Ferrell shows what a team leader looks like
|Wednesday, January 3, 2018, 7:01 AM- -|
NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Clemson locker room was filled with emotion following Monday night’s loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but you would have to look far and wide to find a better teammate and team leader than Clelin Ferrell. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a player that cares more.
While many of his teammates suffered in silence, Ferrell stood in the middle of the locker room and answered all of the questions the media threw his way. The only time he wavered was when he was asked about head coach Dabo’s Swinney’s comments. Ferrell’s voice quivered with emotion, and when fellow defensive end Austin Bryant threw a smile Ferrell’s way, the big man looked at his teammate and said, “I’m hurting.”
Swinney didn’t mince words when talking about the impact Ferrell, who has a choice to make on whether to return to school or declare for the NFL Draft, has had on the program.
“I'm so proud of Cle. It's been fun to watch him mature and grow,” Swinney said. “You get to know these guys in the recruiting process. And he was just kind of a shy kid coming in. And just to watch him blossom into a great man, he is a great leader. He is one of the best leaders we have on this team. And, obviously, he is an outstanding football player. But I'm just really proud of who he is as a young man, what he's all about: His heart, his will to win, how he prepares, and how he pushes and holds his teammates accountable. I mean, he's a grinder, man. And I'm just really, really proud of him.”
Ferrell grew misty-eyed.
“That just shows the love he has for us,” Ferrell said of Swinney. “I didn’t know he was watching and noticing the little things that like. But that just shows the love he has for all of us.”
Ferrell then went back into team-leader mode and gave his take on what happened against Alabama.
“We knew coming into the game it was going to be a grown man's game. We didn't really feel overwhelmed because we understood what we were getting into,” he said. “We played in this game the past two years, and we understand how physical of a game it was going to be. Like we said, the game was going to be won and lost in the trenches. As a team, we just feel like we didn't do a joint effort together to come out with a W. And the scoreboard showed it.
“We had a bunch of different issues. No matter how good the practices were, no matter how good we lifted and no matter how good the game plan was, you have to go out there and perform. As a team, we didn't do that. It was all three levels - offense, defense and special teams. We didn't play well as a team. Hats off to Alabama - they came ready to play and that's really the biggest deal.”
The game was decided in the trenches.
“That is how it should be. That is where the game happens,” . The trenches will always decide a game like this and today it shows. You never can see yourself getting butt-whipped liked that. It's hard. It's hard looking up at that scoreboard. We didn't see this coming at all. No one in this locker room saw this coming. But we didn't come ready to play and Alabama did. No regrets. We just had a poor performance.”