So it was no surprise when Destefano came out firing during Monday's media obligation at the West End Zone, the first of his Clemson career. It was, however, a surprise when DeStefano donned the No. 43 jersey for Saturday night's showdown with Georgia.
His mom and dad didn't even know that their son wouldn't be in No. 71.
"It was a secret. I don't even think I was on the depth chart for the game. [We] like to play little games like that," DeStefano said, cracking a wry smile. "Needless to say [mom and dad] were happy.
Listed as an offensive lineman on the official roster, DeStefano lined up as a tight end for 13 snaps during the 38-35 win. To make his debut even sweeter, his first two snaps ended with orange in the end zone.
"Both those blocks, I was just sitting there -- don't screw up. That's all I was thinking," DeStefano said. "Just don't screw up and try to get it done."
A redshirt freshman, it was his first taste of real, live football in well over a year. For a guy like him, that's a really, really long time.
"So, to go in there and see that, it was gratifying. The progress is there, but I also know there are still mountains to climb and I need to be so much better," DeStefano said.
Chad Morris likes the enthusiasm that DeStefano adds to the offensive front, regardless of position he plays.
"That guy's passionate. He loves football. He loves his role," Morris said. "He's going to be a really good offensive lineman for us, but his role right now is to come in and help us and be that tight end guy for us."
According to Morris, DeStefano will continue to work in the role that he occupied against Georgia, even with a healthy Sam Cooper.
"[DeStefano] made an impact while he was in there," Morris said. "You've got to really appreciate that about that guy. He's put his time in. he's worked extremely hard. And I'm proud for him.
"He wants to play that formation every play. He's trying to tell me he wants to play it every play. He's very passionate about it."
If necessary, DeStefano claims that he has the mitts to make an impact outside the confines of run and pass blocking.
"Definitely lobbying to catch passes, but we'll see if it happens," he said.
DeStefano added, "I caught two in middle school."
CUTigers has included some of the best answers from DeStefano's question and answer session with the media conglomerate on Monday afternoon.
Is it safe to say you felt wanted? You felt needed [in the game plan]?
DeStefano: I finally felt like what mommy always told me. I felt special. But it did. It just felt good to be part of the game plan. I understand that everybody in the program truly does impact, that is a true statement when you say everyone has an impact. It just makes it feel a little bit better when your impact is on the game field.
Coach Morris kind of hinted that would be your role now, playing that tight end spot…
DeStefano: That's news to me. I'm just going to assume that 71 is in my locker and I'm going to throw on the knee braces again and be a fat guy. When I say fat guy, I'm still the same 290 pounds, I'm just a 290-pound tight end, which makes me skinny. Being a 295-pound offensive lineman makes me fat.
But, judging by your comments, you're cool with staying at tight end?
DeStefano: Yes, sir. Anything. Anything that I can get in. Hey, if you want me to kick, I can kick. Not sure I can kick well. But, really, just anything to get in the game plan is good enough for me.
Playing two positions, do you feel like you'll fall behind as a lineman?
DeStefano: I actually know all five positions on the line. It's something I set out [to do] when I was a freshman, because back at Dorman I played everywhere -- from tight end to fullback to center. I knew, making that approach in the beginning, instead of learning just one job, learning the whole offense would help me for times like these when somebody went down and I would have to step up.
The big thing, it's just about compartmentalizing everything. You can't really always think about the big picture. You sometimes just have to isolate what somebody does. I don't think it hurts me at all. Does it hurt that I can never truly focus on one position? There are drawbacks to that, clearly. But, at the same point, it's worked so far. I finally got to see my first snap, which was probably one of the biggest games of the year.
DeStefano makes impact in debut
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