Defensive mentality

CLEMSON - Joe Gore knew what he was getting himself into with Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

As a prospect at East Columbus High School in Lake Waccamaw, N.C., he'd already seen the Tigers practice on several different occasions. Gore had seen first-hand just how intense Clemson's third-year defensive coordinator is.

"There's no one like coach Steele. He's an individual," Gore said. "It's a good thing, because he pushes you non-stop. He constantly gets after you. He wants you to be perfect, so you can move on to the next level. It's a good thing that he's so constantly on you."

When Gore elected to graduate high school early and enroll at Clemson this January, he had already gotten his "mind adjusted" to playing for Steele.

Gore admitted that the quick turnaround from high school to college started out tough.

But three months into it, he's happy with the decision.

"It's making me grow up quicker, so I'm getting a little better at my techniques," he said. "It's helping me get more mentally tough."

Coming to the decision for an early enrollment wasn't a simple process.

"It was difficult, at first. I had a lot of thinking to do. Most kids that can graduate early decide to stay, to enjoy their high school career. That was one of the main things that made me want to think about staying," Gore said. "I had nothing to do, because I had all of my credits, so I didn't have anything else I could do. I thought it would be good for me to go ahead and come early, so I could get adjusted."

When Gore committed to Clemson last June, he did so with the intention of playing under defensive ends coach Chris Rumph. When Rumph left for Alabama, Clemson hired Duke defensive coordinator Marion Hobby has his successor.

Gore and Hobby had already gotten familiar with one another.

"I met him when he was at Duke. He was the one recruiting me at Duke," Gore said. "I met him back then, and kind of knew him a little bit then. Now, he's here. I'm starting to get know him a little bit more. He's a good guy. He's a great coach. It's a pretty good relationship between us."

With Kourtnei Brown's knee injury, Gore will occupy the second and third-team defensive end spots for the remainder of the spring behind Malliciah Goodman.

"Even though [Brown] is hurt, he's still helping me a lot, like memorizing my plays and getting my alignment straight," Gore said. "He's been a big help to me. Malliciah's been a big help to me, too."

Defensive end wasn't always a sure thing at the college level. As a senior, rated him as a three-star offensive tackle, and that's the position many schools offered him to play.

Gore preferred the defensive side of the ball, and Clemson provided that opportunity.

"I think it suits me better, because I like getting after the quarterback, instead of having to protect him all the time," he said. Top Stories