CLEMSON— One of the things that many around the country are wondering about the 2019 Clemson football team is: Where will the leadership come from?
While that question may be a source of concern for those outside of the Clemson program, for head coach Dabo Swinney, it is what makes this time of the year so exciting.
“We have so many new faces that you have to turn the page quick. I think that this really helps us do that,” Swinney said. “We’ve got a lot to accomplish in different areas, but for me personally, it’s chemistry, it’s leadership, it’s the little things. It’s getting these guys to have good football IQ’s not just for their position but within the scheme of their offense and defense.”
The main reason for Swinney’s lack of concern over where the leadership will come from is that he understands the hard work that has gone on in the summer.
“It’s a long season. There’s a lot going on afterward and then you have a bunch of new people, and coaches are on the road in January,” Swinney said. “They’ve done a nice job, and I feel like we kind of got on the same page and put our eyes forward several weeks ago in our team meetings.
“It’s funny though to look out and see a lot of new people in different roles."
While the 2019 Tigers will be without the likes of a Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant or any of the other key pieces to their national title, there are still some very good leaders on the team.
And the fact that they have been stepping up already through mat drills and through spring practice, has Swinney believing the 2019 team will not miss a beat.
“I think (Gage) Cervenka is a guy that’s a leader in all areas,” Swinney said. “He can cross over and lead defensively. I think AJ (Terrell) is a guy like that. I think (Tanner) Muse and K’Von (Wallace) are guys like that. I think (Isaiah) Simmons is. Shaq (Smith) is an unbelievable leader. Shaq is one of the most respected guys on this team. We do some internal things that give me really good feedback on what our DNA is - kind of a DNA test if you will - that I do every year to see where we are and what the team’s thoughts are.