Grady Jarrett: The man in the middle emerging as team leader

by - Senior Writer -
Jarrett was one of the coaches during the high school camps in June
Jarrett was one of the coaches during the high school camps in June

CLEMSON – During pre-practice stretching exercises, the Clemson football team fans out over most of the 100 yards inside of the indoor practice facility, broken out into position groups. Once the stretching finished Friday and the players worked their way to the middle of the field, the man in the middle and leading the way was senior defensive tackle Grady Jarrett Grady Jarrett
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
Conyers, GA

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Jarrett is also the man in the middle of Clemson’s line, and the veteran from Conyers, Ga., told TigerNet following Friday’s season-opening practice that he is prepared to take on the role of team leader in the absence of former quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
Quarterback (2009 - 2013)
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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"I pride myself in trying to lead my teammates and trying to do my part because I can't ask anything that I'm not willing to do,” Jarrett said. “So that's a role I'm prepared if so be it."

However, Jarrett says that he doesn’t think this year’s team needs that one outspoken leader because there are so many upperclassmen dotting the roster.

"It's crazy having 20-plus seniors. This is the first time I've been a part of it,” he said. “But it's a blessing because there are a lot of hungry guys in their last go-around. I don't see anything but good things coming out of it."

Jarrett has led by example during his time at Clemson – playing through the pain and still taking his spot in the interior of the defensive line despite a broken wrist and a torn labrum – but says that none of the older players want to feel that they have arrived.

As a result, Friday’s practice was less about the rah-rah aspect of football and more about taking care of business.

"Coach (Dan) Brooks challenged all of us upperclassmen not to get comfortable and think we know everything. He also wants us to help the young guys, like Jabril (Robinson),” he said. "We're here to take care of business but have fun at the same time. So we're here to work, and that's our mindset."

He even said he has a list of things he needs to work on before the start of the season.

"Just being more knowledgeable, that would be the number one thing,” he said. “I watched a lot of film to understand why teams do certain things. But every aspect of my game, I'm trying to work on all the time."

Jarrett said that Friday’s initial outing was what he expected, but that there is work still to be done.

"I felt like everyone was really solid. We got our feet wet and have a lot more work to do, but it was a solid day,” he said.

Jarrett had 83 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two sacks a season ago, emerging as one of the stalwarts on an improving defensive line that led the nation in tackles for loss. During the summer, that group has received most of the attention when talk of Clemson’s season rolls around, and Jarrett says that while outside perception of the unit may have changed, he and his teammates are just going to keep pushing.

"Maybe to the outsiders, but last year we felt we were a pretty strong unit as well,” he said. “We're trying to get better as a unit and push everybody to be their best."

In past seasons, the pundits have gushed over Clemson’s offense while dismissing the defensive side of the ball. This season, the roles are reversed and Jarrett was asked if he was looking forward to a lot of low-scoring games in which the defense might dominate.

"Not at all. If we have a good offense and a good defense, we'll try to dominate if we can,” he said. “The defense will put the team on their back, and we will do the same if we have to. We're trying to cut down points per game and keep points at a minimum. So we're working hard on that and take pride in that."

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