Man at Peace: Dabo Swinney likes the makeup of this year's team


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Swinney shares a light moment with the media Tuesday
Swinney shares a light moment with the media Tuesday

SUNSET – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is a man at peace, which might not bode well for the rest of the ACC or the country.

The media has spent a good deal of time with Swinney over the last two days, and his calm demeanor and enthusiasm for the season reminds me of the way he was before the 2015 season. He knew then that he had something special, and they fell just short in the title game.

Last season? That was a little more intense as Swinney, the coaches and the players knew they had all the ingredients to make it one of those special seasons that only come around every so often. They climbed that mountain, and now Swinney is at ease as he chases greatness once again.

He spoke with the media for over 40 minutes Tuesday evening in the clubhouse at The Reserve, and he said that this year’s team will be driven by and led by a group of talented and experienced juniors.

“Six scholarship seniors on the whole roster, and I think we have four walk-on seniors. So, ten total guys that you could say are seniors,” Swinney said. “We have a couple of juniors that have a chance to graduate in December. I think Christian has a chance to graduate in December. He only needs 10 hours to do that in the fall, which is unbelievable. We have 27 juniors on scholarship, and probably 21 sophomores, so we are a big-time junior and sophomore team. You always value the senior because they are the guys that are usually the most invested. They usually bring a great sense of urgency because they see the end of the tunnel coming their way and they just think differently.”

The team will be led by juniors that have won a lot of games.

“I love the makeup of our team. I think we have gotten a bunch of guys that have gotten some great experience over the last couple of years,” Swinney said. “We didn't have a lot of seniors last year - I think we had 22 juniors and seniors combined. Which means we have a lot of guys on this roster that have played a lot of games. That junior class, they are basically like juniors and a half because they have played 30 games in two years. They have a lot of experience in big-time games and they understand what it takes. There are a lot of good players in that group. That will definitely be the group that will lead the way.”

Behind those juniors is a large class of sophomores, sophomores that are ready to prove they can be major contributors.

“We have a great sophomore class. We have some guys that got great experience last season. Guys like Cle (Clelin Ferrell),” Swinney said. “But then we also have other guys who are chomping at the bit to prove that they can be an elite player. Like Tanner Muse. Guys that played and guys that made an impact - Tanner blocked a punt and he had a pick-six last year. He had some moments, but he learned how to play and he came out of the season with a different mindset. And now, he wants a bigger role. There is a hunger. Sure, he was on a national championship team last year. But he wants to go be a guy. He wants to be an every-down player. I love that sense of urgency that we have scattered all throughout the roster. That is something that will bode well for us.“

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