Tigers' Grady Jarrett boasts NFL bloodlines


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As the Clemson coaching staff left the playing field of Death Valley following the spring game, I grabbed one of the Tigers’ defensive coaches and asked him who he thought was the best player on Clemson’s defense. His answer was quick and without hesitation: Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
Conyers, GA

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.

The junior out of Conyers, Ga., had four tackles and a sack against LSU in the bowl game, a solid end to a solid season that saw him register 49 tackles and two sacks from his spot at defensive tackle.

Jarrett isn’t the biggest player on the field – he never has been at 6-1, 290 – but gets the most out of his talent and his body, and his almost trance-like intensity on the field and his drive to succeed are well-known around the Clemson program.

Playing football and having that kind of drive comes naturally to Jarrett, whose biological father is former Atlanta Falcon linebacker Jessie Tuggle. He also calls recently retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis ‘Uncle Ray.’

Tuggle played collegiately at Valdosta St. and was a linebacker for the Falcons from 1987-2000. He appeared in the Pro Bowl five times and played in Super Bowl XXXIII. His nickname was the “The Hammer” because of the impact of his tackles. Lewis played his entire professional career with Baltimore after playing collegiately at Miami, and will most certainly be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Jarrett said after the spring game that having those two football players in his life has had an impact on his playing career, especially Lewis.

“Ray Lewis has been with me since I was five years old,” Jarrett said. “He isn’t my biological uncle, but he has always been there for me. My father and my uncle have definitely had an impact on me. Just looking up to players like that helped me with my motivation and setting goals, because I want to be a great player like they were. They definitely played a role in my life, and just in getting to see how they work.”

Once he arrived at Clemson, Jarrett felt like he needed an extra push during the hot summer months and enlisted the help of Lewis, who became his official workout partner.

“Being able to work out with my uncle gives me a different mindset and enables me to push past everything and block everything else out,” he said. “I’ve worked out with him over the past couple of summers, and there really aren’t any secrets. He just tells me how to get the most out of my body, how to push it to the max, and just push past everything. He has been a part of my family for a really long time.”

Despite having two All-Pro linebackers to emulate, Jarrett said that he never really considered playing linebacker because his heart is in the trenches.

“I never really wanted to play linebacker,” he said. “I played linebacker in middle school a little bit, but I didn’t really like it. I’ve always been a lineman, either an offensive lineman or defensive lineman. That’s where I like to play.”

His performance against LSU in the bowl earned him a little national attention, but he told TigerNet he knows he is capable of even more.

“That was a good game, the only bowl game that day,” he said. “That performance I had really put my name out there some more. That was big to do that on the national stage. My performance didn’t surprise me at all because I knew what I was capable of. But I know that I can do even more and get even better. And that starts this summer.”

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