Going Pro: Watson, Gallman, Scott and Williams to participate in Senior Day
|Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 1:52 PM- -|
CLEMSON – A victory over Pitt this Saturday will clinch the Atlantic Division title for second-ranked Clemson, a cause for celebration. But it’s Senior Day, and it’s a chance for players like Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman and Artavis Scott to run down the hill to the roar of the crowd.
All four are listed as juniors on the football roster but are on track to graduate either in December or in May and will run down the hill solo.
“They are seniors. Those guys indicated to me back in the summer that this was going to be it for them, and they were going to graduate in December,” Swinney said Tuesday. “Their plan was to be a senior. They're more seniors than some of the seniors. To me, it's about graduation. Whatever their eligibility is, you can get all confused with some of that. When are you graduating and what are your intentions? Charone Peake, for example, knew he was graduating in December but he knew he was coming back another year. We try to honor the guys that we know they're not going to be back, and they're either going to graduate in December, or they're on track to graduate in May.
“That's how we handle senior day. Deshaun only has five hours left. He has less hours than some of our fifth-year seniors have this semester. He's definitely earned that right in every regard because it's about graduation. We'll have several of those guys - Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott, Deshaun - they are all graduating in December. All of those guys are planning on moving on. We definitely want to honor them while we have the opportunity. They've earned that. We've got some fourth-year seniors - Jordan Leggett and Ben Boulware. We've got a couple of fifth year guys in there - Jay Guillermo, Carlos Watkins. It's a really good group of young men who are looking for a strong finish. It's great to have that moment to really celebrate them, and then let's get busy.”
Williams and Watson are likely to be early-round picks, but the status of Gallman and Scott is a little more uncertain. Swinney says both are ready for the challenges of the NFL.
“I think both of them are certainly ready to play at the next level,” Swinney said. “Again both of those guys are going to have their degrees. I support them 100 percent in that. I really do. I think Wayne is definitely ready and going to make a great, great NFL player for somebody. People have no idea what they are getting in that guy. He is something special and still developing.
“Same thing with Artavis. Why he (Artavis) doesn't get the recognition? This is one of the best football players we have had come to Clemson since I have been here. He is a great football player that just happens to play wide receiver. This kid is dynamite man. He is so dependable, tough, hard to tackle, great special teams guy, fast. This kid can run and has improved drastically as a receiver and can play the slot, can play outside. He can do so many things. I mean he is going to be a great pro. As far as where he will be drafted those are things that will be evaluated as we move forward, but there is no question he is going to be a great player at the next level.”
Swinney then compared Scott to a Swiss Army knife.
“This kid is everything that you could possibly want. He is like the Swiss Army knife. He's got a lot of options. I love Artavis Scott. He’s blue collar, plays with a chip on his shoulder. Y'all used to hear me talk about Adam Humphries all the time,” Swinney said. “Nobody wanted to talk about Adam Humphries. Everybody wanted to talk about the guy behind Adam Humphries. Why is Adam Humphries playing? How many times did I hear that, and he's doing pretty good. It's the same thing with Artavis except Artavis is better. Artavis has been a big time special football player here at Clemson. I think he is third all-time in receptions, just passed Nuk Hopkins. I think it is Aaron Kelly, Sammy Watkins and Artavis Scott and he has done it in three years. He's clutch. He's got a little bit of Jaron Brown in him.
“I used to brag on Jaron Brown all the time. Nobody wanted to listen to me on Jaron Brown. He was sandwiched between Nuk and Sammy, and I'd tell all those NFL guys I'm telling you, Jaron Brown, this kid is a great football player. He's got that great clutch capability. It seems like whenever we need a big play, Artavis is always involved. I am really proud of that kid. He was a good student in high school, but I don't think he sold out to be a great student and then comes in here and rooms with Deshaun. That just goes to show you how you can influence people either way. All of sudden, he is kind of a different mentality, and now all of sudden, Artavis wants to compete. Alright let's compete here and next thing you know he graduates in three years. It's so rare and so hard to do especially when you are balancing all the thing that these guys have to balance from performance, expectations, training and obviously the school. He's been one of the best we have had come through here.”
The challenge of Pitt
“This is a very good football. A lot of times, people just look and see that they're 5-4, but this is a team that is truly a few plays from being 8-1 - a break here or a break there. This is a very good football team. We're going to have to play well. They beat Penn State and we know Penn State beat Ohio State. Penn State is ranked in the top 12. They went to Oklahoma State and lost in a shootout. They lost by three to Virginia Tech, who is probably going to win the Coastal. They lost by one at the end of the game against North Carolina. These are really good football teams that they took to the wire. The Miami game got away from them, but this is a good football team. I've never played Pitt and this is the first time I've ever really studied them. Very impressed with their football team. It's a veteran team. Coming into the season, they had 18 of their starters back on both sides of the ball. A veteran team. A confident team. Coach Narduzzi had done a great job in instilling his philosophies and mentality into how they play.
“Offensively, they've got a transfer quarterback from Tennessee. He's a big, strong guy that runs well. This offensive coordinator was the guy at N.C. State last year when we went up there and that was probably one of our worst games defensively. This guy is kind of in the same mold as Jacoby Brissett. Very good thrower and a good runner. Their running back is a very special player, relentless competitor. James Connor has a ton of heart, and he plays with his heart. He's a very good running back and is the heart of their team. Their offensive line is all back. They're big, nasty and physical - all great attributes of a good offensive line. Last week, we played a team that was going to throw it 40 or 50 times and this week, they're averaging 5 yards a rush that's going to try to bloody your nose and run the football with all of the shifts and motions and misdirections and play action that comes off of it. A lot of option principles. It's going to take a Georgia Tech type discipline to really slow these guys down. They've scored on everybody and the least amount of points they've had is 28.
“Defensively, a bunch of vets. They had nine guys back. They're not a passive defense. They're not going to sit back. They're going to attack and play aggressively. It's who they are and what they've always done. You're going to have to hat things up properly and break some tackles and make some plays and win some matchups. Very, very good defense. No. 5 (Ejuan Price) is a very, very good football player. He just makes plays. He's explosive and plays with a motor.
“Special teams, last week we played the number one punt return team in the nation and this week we're playing the number one kick returner in the nation. This little number 10 (Quadree Henderson) who they'll do all of their jet sweeps with and stuff on offense, is averaging about 33 yards a return - tops in the country.”
“For us, it's about finding a way to get to 10-0. We're excited about being at home. We've only got two more home games. It's hard to believe that the year has flown by like it has. We've enjoyed every single opportunity. I really appreciate our fans. The home crowds have been amazing. We didn't have a bunch of weather this year. They were amazing last year with all of the weather. This year we've had a bunch of beautiful weather and the crowds have just been awesome. I'm excited this week. This is a great senior group and what they've been able to accomplish here is well-documented. Tremendous leadership and commitment from these guys. This is our senior day and an opportunity to honor them individually. That's always a special moment. I know we'll have a great turnout and great energy for that. We'll have one more home game when we'll honor them as a group. It's a lot of fun to see these guys see the finish line and see that sense of urgency in everything that they're doing."
WHAT A WIN MEANS
"It would be special. We've got a chance for a 10th win; that would be six years in a row and I think that's the level of consistency that we dreamed about wanted to be known for, so there's a tremendous opportunity there. Certainly, if you find a way to win the game, it's another division title, but it's a chance to go play for another ACC title. It's a chance to try to continue to work through our goals there. It would be special. What this group has done over the last few years since they got here - Ben Boulware and the young guys that have jumped on board - Dexter Lawrence or Christian Wilkins - it's been pretty special. It would be a great way to send these guys out - being division champs and having an opportunity to celebrate that at home and have an opportunity to play in the ACC Championship Game. We haven't won ACC Championships in back-to-back years in 28 years here. There's still a lot of work to be done here at Clemson. We've made a lot of progress and a lot of strides over the last seven or eight years, but we've got a lot of work to do. There are still a lot of accomplishments out there, so if we win the division, it gives us a chance to go play for it in back-to-back years. We've never done that, and we haven't won it since the 80s. It's definitely something we'd love to have the opportunity to do."