Building leaders for today

GREENSBORO, NC - With just 11 seniors on the roster, Dabo Swinney knows he'll need several of his younger players to emerge as leaders.

Taking extra steps to be sure that seniors are featured as prominent members of the team has been Swinney's method of operation since he was named interim head coach in 2008.

"I've always been passionate about the senior class. I've always allowed them to select a guy or two to come in [to senior meetings]," Swinney said. "This year, I let them pick a few more, because we're small in numbers."

Several prominent underclassmen have been invited to join Spencer Benton, Xavier Brewer, Jaron Brown, Andre Ellington, Brandon Ford, Dalton Freeman, Malliciah Goodman, Rashard Hall, Corico Wright, Jonathan Meeks and Jonathan Willard in this season's meetings.

"I had the 11 seniors elect a couple of juniors [and] a couple of sophomores to come and be a part of our leadership meeting…we're going to have to have some guys, Sammy Watkins, those type guys -- Stephone Anthony, step up and be leaders," Swinney said. "Brandon Thomas is a guy that's really done a great job of leading from that junior group.

"All 11 of those seniors are good players; good people that I think have the ability to lead."

But they're going to need some help.

D.J. Howard, Grady Jarrett and DeShawn Williams are others who have "jumped out at me" and "tried to be leaders at an early age here," Swinney said.

The sophomores aren't the youngest in the senior meetings. Early enrolled freshman Travis Blanks was invited, too.

"I think we've got a freshman, like Travis Blanks that has a chance to really be a leader at an early stage in his career, and impact some of those other freshmen," Swinney said. "I've already seen that. That's the benefit of having a guy like that com in early."

Those underclassmen that will be part of the senior meetings weren't invited just because of their performance on the field.

"They know who the leaders on the team are. They know who cuts corners and who doesn't, so it's interesting for me to see…I just run the meetings. They decide who's in there," Swinney said.

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