Ferrell has fun with Swinney, says decision to return was to "leave a strong legacy"
|Thursday, March 1, 2018, 1:11 PM- -|
The junior defensive end out of Virginia had a difficult decision to make after the Tigers’ loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Declare for the NFL Draft or return for another season at Clemson? Ferrell says he was torn for the majority of the process before finally deciding to return.
Once the decision was made, he called his head coach.
“I called Coach Swinney first,” Ferrell told TigerNet. “I said, ‘Coach, I think I'm gonna go.’ He was like, ‘What? Really?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I think I'm gonna go back to school.’ He was like oh man, that is great I am excited for you. This is going to be a good year.’”
Ferrell didn’t receive the draft grade he wanted from the NFL but made sure that everyone understood he didn’t return to school just to improve his draft stock.
“I want to leave a strong legacy here for when I leave,” he said. “People think I came back just to improve my draft stock when that really was one of the last reasons why I came back.
“When I came to Clemson, I wanted to be known as one of the best players to come through here on defense and that is one of the strongest reasons why I came back. When I came to college, one of my goals was not to leave here in three years and go to the NFL … it was to be a great player here. That was kind of the biggest thing for me, not to improve my draft stock.”
Ferrell received a second-round grade by the NFL Draft Advisory Board in January, which he said did not surprise him at all.
“I’m not going to go just off of what they say, but more so how ready I felt I am,” he said. “I was kind of blessed to hear that … second-round grade that is kind of crazy for me. I have been playing for two years and not having the three full years under my belt. I was not too surprised.”
Ferrell then said that the loss to Alabama – and the failure in winning back-to-back titles – also figured in his decision.
“Unfinished business. We felt like we left a lot on the table and didn’t play like we wanted to play,” he said. “I have that drive to get my team back to the National Championship and that is a big thing for me. At the end of the day, I felt like I made the best decision for me.”
Also making decisions were Ferrell’s friends and comrades on the defensive line – defensive end Austin Bryant and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. All three elected to return but made their decisions separately.
“We talked about it, but when you look at it, that would have kind of been a naïve decision because we all could have made decisions to go and leave together, but we are not going to get drafted to the same team,” he said. “So, at the end of the day we just understood that we had to make the best decisions for ourselves and lucky for us, all of us felt like that was to come back. We are happy that we get to go at it again one more time.
“It’s a tough one when that opportunity (to turn pro) presents itself. You really have to consider it. Having this opportunity to come back and be with my guys again, and to have a chance to get better … Personally, I feel like that was the best thing for me.”