Venables says Power Rangers moment defines the fun his players have


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Wilkins displays his Power Rangers hand signal after big plays
Wilkins displays his Power Rangers hand signal after big plays

CLEMSON – Brent Venables opened his door on Halloween, expecting to see children who were out trick-or-treating dressed as ghosts or pirates or firemen. Instead, he saw oversized young men dressed as Power Rangers, and all he could do was shake his head and smile.

Defensive linemen Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Carlos Watkins, Clelin Ferrell and Jabril Robinson all dressed up as characters from the hit TV show and made the rounds on Halloween, including the house of their defensive coordinator.

Venables only had one thought.

“Nobody will ever believe this. I have to get this on camera, so people will believe it,” Venables said of trying to capture the moment. “But that's the kind of guys they are. They are exhausting their moments in college. This should be the best time and one of the most innocent times in their athletic careers. And that's great to see because sometimes guys are too cool for that or they are focused on all the stresses of life or trying to meet everybody else's expectations. Those are some guys right there, they get it. But that was one of the funniest things I've ever seen as a coach, where the players let their guard down like that. That probably tops it all right there.”

Venables said it shows how Wilkins has connected with Lawrence, the dynamic freshman out of North Carolina.

“They do have a great relationship, but I think Christian is like that with everybody,” Venables said. “If you have hot food, he will come. Christian loves life. When we recruited him, we thought it was too good to be true. This doesn't happen every year or even every few years. It's a very rare quality that they bring out the best in everybody, and they make everybody around them better without saying a word. He has an incredible spirit and humility. And Dexter is just like him, just a much quieter version. Big smile, doesn't say a whole lot.”

He then said that his entire defense is made up of the kind of characters that make coaching fun.

“We have a very interesting dynamic where we have a big, bold. mean and nasty guy in Ben Boulware and then you have guys like Carlos who didn't reach his potential until this year and then a guy like Jadar Johnson that tried to pack his bags multiple times in his career,” Venables said. “And then you have all of these other guys that are all kind of just plugged in. A guy like Kendall Joseph, who is probably the most low-maintenance middle linebacker I've ever coached. We just have a bunch of different kinds of guys from different backgrounds that have a unique chemistry. And when your best players let you coach them hard - we coach Ben Boulware as hard as we've coached anybody in our five years here. And it transcends down through everybody. It's a very unique blend and why we've had some success on defense this year.”

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