Swinney gave a challenge to Lawson before SC game


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Clemson needs Lawson to be a huge factor on Saturday
Clemson needs Lawson to be a huge factor on Saturday

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gave a challenge to defensive end Shaq Lawson before the South Carolina game last weekend - lead the nation in tackles for loss after the game.

"That was my challenge to him last week," Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. "He was behind. He was second by half a tackle...I told him when the game is over you need to be leading the nation. I am going to be disappointed if you are not. He loves stuff like that. He likes challenges. So he is leading the nation. But he needs to be leading the nation after this one too. So we got one more week to go."

Lawson finished the South Carolina game with four tackles, 1 sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss. He now leads the nation with 20.5 tackles for loss in 12 games, an average of 1.71 per game. Five players are close behind with 19.5 tackles for loss in 12 games for a 1.625 per game figure. Those players are Antonio Longino of Arizona State, Carl Nassib of Penn State, Ejuan Price of Pittsburgh, Devonte Fields of Louisville and Anthony Walker of Northwestern.

Swinney said that it has been incredible to watch Lawson develop from a basketball player to one of the best defensive players in the country.

"This community has watched Shaq Lawson since Bolick Field at Central Rec where my kids have grown up playing," Swinney said. "It's incredible the maturation and development he has gone through throughout his years. Shaq was a basketball player. We were not even sure we were going to recruit him. He was a guy that was not really committed to football. He liked football, and he was good at football, but he was a basketball player. He was going to the NBA until I think he realized he wasn't a point guard.

Lawson excelled at football once he decided that football was his future.

"So he got a little more serious about football practice, and he developed nicely," Swinney said. "He is a great athlete. I love Shaq. He is one of the easiest guys I have ever coached. Because he is just low maintenance, blue collar, loves to play, loves to practice. He's a smart player. He's got great instincts for the game. He's just tough. I mean I love Shaq. It's great. It's great for this community. It's not just Shaq. It's amazing the young men that have come out of Clemson, Central, Six Mile area that have come to Clemson or gone to other places. It's incredible what these guys have been able to do."

Tags: Shaq Lawson
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