CLEMSON— What did the Clemson Tigers do after winning the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship—they went right back to work.
But that work ethic does not surprise anyone around the program, especially co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott.
“Really good start offensively. Really pleased with the group. We just want to see if the guys are hungry, which I expected them to be,” Scott said. “It would've been a surprise if they weren't. Really proud of all the positions. Guys are working hard. The offensive line, four seniors and a lot of leadership in that group. Even though we've got a lot of guys returning, it just feels like a young, eager, hungry group and as a coach, that's exactly what you're looking for, exactly what you want.”
While the Tigers had less than two week to recover from their most recent national title, the quick turnaround is something they have become used to, have come to expect and enjoy because of the reason for the lack of offseason.
“I think for us it's become normal. Three of the four years, you go to the national championship game, have a quick winter and then be right back out there,” Scott said. “We want that to be the norm. We have that calendar, and we know exactly what that feels like. I think it's good. As a coach, you want to get back out there.
“One of the hardest times for me as a coach is that January and February where you're out recruiting, and you're away from your guys, and you can't wait to get back to this time of the year where you can see them every day and be and around them and get back to coaching ball. It's great, but it kind of reminds you of last year - starting over and knowing what could be, but where are we now and what do we have to do to get there?”
For Scott, his position group has become an embarrassment of riches over the last 10 years.
From Sammy Watkins to Vance’s own Mike Williams, the Tigers have been blessed with a ton of talented offensive skill players. That trend appears to be continuing with Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, Justyn Ross, Cornell Powell and Derion Kendrick anchoring a unit that also boasts two of the highest ranked wide receiver recruits in the nation in Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata.
But the message from Scott is a simple one: regardless of the talent, you still have to work.
"It just feels like it gets better and better every year,” Scott said. “Then it's just like they keep getting better and better. Part of that is because of what those groups did before them. That's why these guys...it's because they watched guys like Mike Williams make plays when he was younger. At the same time, there's a strong message that talent's great, but talent doesn't win. Team wins.
“You've gotta develop the talent. And so, it's the character to go with the talent and I feel like we have that. So that's what I'm most excited about is I think we've got some talented guys that are eager, hungry and want to work.”
Having an offensive group is so eager to work, combined with having the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy in quarterback Trevor Lawrence back for his sophomore season has the coaching staff looking for new ways to create stress this spring.
"I think it's really freedom in what you can do offensively,” Scott said. “Even though we're starting over, we're starting on a little bit higher level with a guy like Trevor--even as talented as he is. There's a difference in him Year Two to Year One and the conversations that you're able to have with him. Then those guys up-front--you're having the talks that normally you may have later in fall camp, you're having them in spring ball.
“But just being able to be able to do a little bit more and strain them a little mentally post-snap is probably the biggest difference. But you don't let up as a coach or change your mindset or relax. You have to continue to push and that's what this group wants and what they deserve.”