The ACC will be the premier conference for pass rushers in 2005. In fact, there is potentially seven defensive ends in the conference that will be day one draft picks in next April's NFL draft. Clemson senior defensive end Charles Bennett believes he ranks with the best of them.
"Playing against the best motivates me, but I don't just consider them the best defensive ends. We have two great defensive ends here at Clemson, me and Gaines Adams. I think that elevates both of our levels of play. Regardless, who is on the field, me and Gaines are gonna come out and give 110% anyways," said Bennett.
Throughout his career Bennett has been one of the most consistent players on and off the field. Bennett knows the coaches expect him to perform at his highest level each day he steps on the field.
"You just work hard at it (being consistent). Coach (Marion) Hobby is a hard coach, but that is a good thing. He makes sure we go hard every chance we get out on the field," said Bennett.
Coach Hobby is Clemson's third defensive line coach in three seasons. All of the defensive lineman have praised Coach Hobby on and off the record, and Bennett feels Coach Hobby will get the most out of everyone.
"All coaches have a different coaching style. Coach Hobby yells, but he yells when it is necessary. He is more of a perfectionist. He wants us to be the best we can be and give it all we have. He makes us go to that level that we feel can't reach. I am not saying Coach (Ron) West and Coach (Thielen) Smith, who I had in the past, didn't make us to do that, but he is a little bit tougher," said Bennett.
Bennett took the chance Wednesday morning to have a little fun with his position coach. Coach Hobby took some time to show his players how he looked in his younger days at the university of Tennessee.
"He showed us a highlight tape from his playing days. A highlight tape you just pick all the good plays you want. He told us we needed 3-D glasses, but I didn't think so," Bennett said with a laugh.
True freshman Phillip Merling has positioned himself at the number two spot behind Bennett. Bennett says he has welcomed the opportunity to take Merling or anyone else under his wing.
"I try to help anybody out. If I can help a defensive tackle, cornerback, or linebacker, it is just anyboby. He works hard, I mean sometimes he might now go in the right gap, but he is doing what he is supposed to do," concluded Bennett.