Going the extra mile

SUNSET, S.C. - Travis Blanks has treated his Saturdays in the summer just like he does during the fall. The work week doesn't end on Friday.

Count defensive backs coach Mike Reed among those that are impressed by the extra work Blanks has put in over the last couple of months.

"[Blanks] has sacrificed Saturdays. In the offseason, he comes in and he does extra," Reed said. "Right now, he comes in on Saturdays, watches film, he goes out and he works out."

According to Reed, it's rare for an underclassman to take that kind of an approach.

"I haven't seen too many [sophomores] with that type of mentality," Reed said. "Usually, they grow into it. For a young man like himself, who's experienced a little success, he's taking it and he's going forward. That's what you want to see."

A former four-star prospect coming out of North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Blanks had 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception and seven pass breakups in 563 snaps over 13 games last season.

Blanks lived up to the hype in year one.

"There was a reason why he was one of the top rated high school athletes coming out," Reed said. "The kid is a true student of the game. He has tremendous work ethic."

Now a sophomore, Blanks is one of the veterans in Clemson's defensive backfield.

When practice opens in eight days, the eight freshmen defensive backs will outnumber the upperclassmen in the group.

"For the young guys to see [Blanks], it's like, ‘Wow. This is how it's supposed to be done.' It truly is," Reed said. "You shouldn't have to -- as I say, if you love the game of football as much as you say you do, no man should have to motivate you. The game itself is a motivating factor.

"Waking up in the morning and having an opportunity to go play the game is motivating. If you have any competitive juice in your body, you don't need motivation from a coach. For me, I get motivated because I can't play the game anymore. I have to get motivated, so I live vicariously through my players."

So it's no wonder why Reed lights up when he talks about Blanks and the other players he's gotten to work with during his short time at Clemson.

"I expect a lot out of all of them," Reed said. "My ceiling for them is we're reaching for the moon. So what? We may fall amongst the stars. That's not a bad place for them to fall. My expectation for them is probably higher than theirs are for themselves."

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