Cervenka has no qualms about beating up the younger players

"Just beat them up." Cervenka remembers lessons taught by Wilkins

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Gage Cervenka remembers the lessons taught by Christian Wilkins and he’s only too happy to return the favor to the Tigers’ young defensive line.

When Cervenka made the change from the defensive line to the offensive line there was a learning curve, and one of his teachers was Wilkins, the standout defensive tackle who now plays for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Wilkins knew that if Cervenka was to reach his full potential, he had to go full speed every play, every day. Wilkins had to be at his best so Cervenka could be at his best. The lessons were tough and they were brutal, but they were necessary.

Cervenka is now a senior on an offensive line that will feature four senior starters this season, while the Tigers’ defensive line will have youth aplenty. How does Cervenka make sure the youngsters are learning their lessons? He beats them up, day after day.

“Yeah, just like Christian Wilkins did for us. Just beat them up. That's kind of like what he did,” Cervenka told TigerNet. “I have to play the best I can because I know if I play the best I can - and I feel like I am one of the best in the nation - and if we play how we play it automatically brings them up a couple of notches. You show them what it's like in a game before we get in a game, and then when game time comes it will be easier for them. That is what we are doing is playing our best in practice and giving them the best look.”

Cervenka has been impressed with what he’s seen.

“It's going good. It's good really good and I'm impressed with how it's gone so far,” he said. “We have a lot of young guys that are really falling in behind our leadership and we are kind of showing them the ropes. Little things like jogging up the field and making them focus on the little things. I have been very impressed with how they've done.”

Cervenka even gives advice to the youngsters when the situation calls for someone with experience.

“We talk. They don't even have to ask us. If we see something they need to know then we will kind of show it to them,” Cervenka said. “Our defense likes to stem a little bit and trick offenses and show the different looks, and sometimes we will see that and we know that they are about to do it, so after practice, we will go up to them and say, 'Hey man, make sure you aren't showing that you are about to shift over.' It's subtle things like that. Or maybe if there is a blitz coming when can see how their hand is barely in the ground or their stance is a little bit different. So, we try to show them that.”

Do any of the young players stand out?

“Honestly, they are all impressive. Everyone thinks we aren't going to have a good defensive line this year because everybody left but a lot of them have been making plays and playing very well,” Cervenka said. “Everyone is strong and quick and athletic and I am impressed with the defensive line we have so far.”

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