Young tackle understands Clemson legacy

by - Senior Writer -
Grady says the defensive tackles are working to make sure they aren’t considered the weak spot on the defense.

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers have a great tradition when it comes to defensive linemen, a fact that the numbers easily bear out.

Nine different Tiger defensive linemen have been named All-Americans; two (Michael Dean Perry and William Perry) have been named ACC Player of the Year; Bowers won the Nagurski and Hendricks Awards in 2010; 39 different linemen have been selected as All-Conference players; 28 former Tigers have gone on to play in the NFL; and 10 different players have been drafted into the NFL in the past ten years, a number that will go up this year when both Andre BranchAndre Branch
Defensive End
#40 6-5, 260
Richmond, VA

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and Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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hear their names called.

Current defensive tackle Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-0, 290
Conyers, GA

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says he understands that tradition, and he uses that as motivation to get better day by day as he and the rest of the defensive tackles work to make sure they aren’t considered a weak spot on the defense.

“We all know that we aren’t going to be the weak link,” Jarrett said. “We all know that Clemson has a great tradition of defensive linemen and especially defensive tackles. We know what the tradition is and we will keep carrying that torch and using it as motivation to get better.”

The 6-0, 295-pound tackle out of Conyers, Ga., has opened eyes with his sometimes spectacular play this spring, and he continued his good work Saturday by recording six tackles and two sacks in the spring game.

Jarrett says he was trying to make a statement.

“I really felt comfortable,” he said. “I just wanted to play hard every down and I was trying to make a statement to say, ‘Hey, I am here.’ I have been working really hard all spring for this game, and trying to work hard to get better.”

He said that his work ethic has been better simply because he has several other players pushing for playing time at the position.

“I really tried to work on my all-around game,” he said. “I was just working on my hands, my feet, my explosiveness and getting better in the weight room. And with our group, competition makes everybody else better. They say that iron sharpens iron, and we are competing and getting better every time out.”

The defenders have also had to learn a new scheme under new defensive coordinator Brent Venables, but Jarrett said that process hasn’t been as hard as some people might think.

“We are getting a grasp on it, but when it comes down to it, it’s just football,” he said. “It’s about technique; it’s playing your gap and getting penetration. We are all just making progress. Everybody is working hard every day. I see everybody else working and I am working.”

Jarrett doesn’t have the height typically associated with great defensive linemen, but he said he uses all of his other strengths together in order to be a good player.

“I am a strong dude that can move well,” he said. “I work with what God blessed me with. I am getting better, week by week and day by day. Penetration has been my major thing, and that is what I am really good at. I couldn’t speak for the 6-4 guy, but I have to maximize what I have. I have a leverage advantage and I use that.”

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