“I knew it was going to happen, but I just waited patiently,” the defensive end said. “My mom always told me just to wait patiently and something good was going to happen. I just waited patiently and tried to work hard.”
President’s position coach, Rodney Garner, noticed back in spring training the end was making progress, something that continued in preseason as the lineman increased his size to 6-4, 265 pounds while improving his strength. He redshirted in 2012 and saw limited action in just three games last season as the Tigers won the SEC championship.After not getting into the game vs. Arkansas in the 2014 season opener, he caught the attention of the coaching staff by making five tackles in game two vs. San Jose State. He then added one tackle vs. Kansas State and four vs. Louisiana Tech.
“When I got my first start it was against LSU,” President said. “The week before I had a pretty decent game. I made a couple of tackles. He (Garner) said to stay confident and keep on doing what you are doing and everything will go well and we’re going to start you this game.”
Commenting on the end, Gus Malzahn said, “He has been very consistent. He’s a very physical young man, he’s really made some really good, physical plays. He’s tough guy, he’s a smart guy, and he’s earned it. From a coaches’ standpoint that really makes you feel good if you have a guy that’s really been consistent and earned his way out there.”
President, who had one tackle vs. LSU and one vs. Mississippi State, will try to hold on to his starting spot as the Tigers have a bye week before taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks, which will be a big game for the sophomore who was a Parade All-American in that state at Wando High in Mt. Pleasant.
President pointed out that he knows a lot of players on the South Carolina roster, including Brandon Sherrill, who was his teammate on an AAU basketball team. The defensive end did not grow up a fan of the Gamecocks. “I would say I was a Clemson fan more than a South Carolina fan.”
President, whose brother played hoops at College of Charleston, decided to concentrate on football as a junior. “My dad just said to focus on one sport so you already know what you’re going to do,” President pointed out. “I said I’ll just pick football and keep on doing football.”
After suffering their first loss of the season last Saturday, the Tigers are focused on improvement as a team and individually. “I think my most improvement has been with pass rush and trying to make more contact with the tackle this year,” President said.
President is shown in action during a practice drill.
Improving the pass rush on the front four has been a high priority for Garner, who has been “pretty tough” on President to get better. “He pushes me a lot and that keeps me working harder and harder, and being physically stronger and with my mental strength,” the sophomore said. “I like playing for Coach Garner. He’s a pretty good coach.”
Commenting on what he is specifically working on as a pass rusher, he said, “I would say just trying to get to the edge quicker. That’s my biggest factor I need to do is get to the edge and flip my hips more and use my hands. I think that is my weakest point and what I should work on even more.”
The Tigers, who are 5-1 overall and ranked No. 6 nationally, will practice through Thursday this week before taking two days off prior to opening game week preparations on Sunday for a home game vs. South Carolina.