Fiesta Bowl Media Day: News, notes and nuggets


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Ben Boulware and the Tigers take on Ohio St. in the Fiesta Bowl
Ben Boulware and the Tigers take on Ohio St. in the Fiesta Bowl

CLEMSON – The Clemson football team held its Media Day for the upcoming Fiesta Bowl, in which the Tigers will take on Ohio State in the first round of the College Football Playoff.

The media spent about an hour with all of the starters Monday morning in the WestZone and below are some of the nuggets we picked up from some of the interview sessions.

We’ll roll out in-depth stories with many of the players in Clemson’s starting lineup throughout the week.

*Artavis Scott, who graduated last Thursday, said that he has not decided whether or not he will declare for the NFL Draft and that he is still open to returning for his senior season.

Jay Guillermo

*Guillermo said that he knows there’s been a lot of negativity from the press surrounding Clemson’s season, but if they continue taking care of business nobody will remember what’s been written.

"The other day I read that with the media, 'If it bleeds, it leads.' Everyone wants to focus on the negative," Guillermo said. "There's been plenty of positives written about us, too. It is what it is, and it comes with the territory. None of that matters if we go win a national championship. I don't care how terrible people want to talk about our offensive line or whoever, as long as we win a national championship that doesn't matter. As long as we do our jobs and we know that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, everything takes care of itself, and none of that really matters."

*Guillermo was asked about Ben Boulware and said he understands fans love-hate relationship with the Tigers’ eccentric linebacker.

"He's a competitor. He's everything you want in a crazy linebacker," Guillermo said if Boulware. "I can definitely see why other people wouldn't like him. I love Ben Boulware. He's a character. He needs to cut out all of the capris and pink stuff. I tell him all of the time, 'Dude, come one. You can't have that manly of a beard and dress that feminine.'”

Mike Williams

*Clemson’s leading wide receiver missed all of the last year after suffering a neck injury on the opening drive of the season, but he said he considered playing in the Playoff, but decided against it.

“Actually, I was hearing a little bit from the doctor's visits that I had every week that I probably could've played in the playoffs, but I didn't want to do that,” Williams said. “He said he felt like that was a good idea, also. If I really wanted to push it, I might could've played. If it would've been an arm or knee, I would've been out there, but with it being my neck I didn't want to push it.”

He said missing the season allowed him graduate, something that probably wouldn’t have happened had he competed his junior year.

"Maybe if I didn't get hurt, I probably wouldn't be here right now," Williams said. "I feel like everything happens for a reason. I guess he wanted me to get my degree. I got some good out of it."

Ben Boulware

Boulware was asked about some of his favorite moments throughout his Clemson career, and he said his favorite hit occurred earlier this year.

“I don't know. That Boston College hit was pretty fun. They're so momentary and temporary because you hit and 10 seconds go by, and you're ready for the next play, so they don't make that much of a lasting impact,” Boulware said. “It's more than just the entire game and each season. It's really each practice and each moment that I have with these guys. I know they're running out quick and the sand is running out for me, so I'm just embracing it and exhausting every moment I've got.”

Being a part of Clemson football is special enough, but his favorite part is something he doesn’t even get to experience first-hand.

“Every week Jay Guillermo will do impressions on the bus as we go to the hotel,” Boulware said. “I don't get to experience it because there are an offensive and defensive bus. I've been wanting to get on their bus just to hear it, but I've got a lot of the offensive linemen to record it. Before I go to bed, I'll listen to Jay's recordings of him doing the impressions on the bus. I wish I could say that's my funniest thing but I don't get to be a part of it because we have rule on this team.”

Dexter Lawrence

*Clemson’s freshman phenom said that after playing running back in his earlier years, he was immediately open to the idea of playing offense for the Tigers.

“I played 99-percent defense and one-percent offense (in high school),” Lawrence said. “I played offense in little league, so I love offense, but I love defense more. The only way I'll be on offense is to be in the backfield.”

*Lawrence was asked about taking on such a big role early on and he said he’s just followed the lead of the older players like Christian Wilkins and Carlos Watkins.

“That's what I wanted when I came here, just to have the knowledge about how to play in these big games and to understand the importance of it and how serious I should take it,” Lawrence said. “The big thing they were saying is to stay in control of what you can control - your body weight, how you think and how you take on things.”

Jadar Johnson

Johnson spent the first part of his career sitting behind players like Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green, but has gotten the chance to show the college football world that he can play safety, however, he gets his confidence and drive from his hometown.

“A lot of times when I go out on the field, I'm doing it for Orangeburg. I want the people back home to be proud of me and see that I'm actually out here doing something,” Johnson said. “I know after the games; I get so many text messages and so many messages on Facebook from people from Orangeburg just saying that they're watching. I really appreciate that. That gives me an extra boost of confidence knowing that I've got a whole city behind me and everybody is rooting for me. Just knowing that I have that support system behind me actually makes me want to go out there and play even harder.”

Coming from a small town, taught Johnson the right way to approach the game and to play with an edge and chip on his shoulder.

“Being raised in Orangeburg has definitely taught me a lot of things. Just growing up around the guys that I grew up around, we all have that same mentality because we're down there from a small area so even when we would play football or out of town games, they always treated us a little differently,” he said. “We always had to have a different mentality to actually compete with other teams. We were a 4A school but they treat us small, so we all had to have that different mentality.”

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