Kearse's honest assessment

CLEMSON - There's a saying that, at this point in the season, freshmen aren't freshmen anymore. That applies to Jayron Kearse on and off the field.

Kearse has logged 372 snaps through 11 games this season, two of which he started. He has 46 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble.

The first-year free safety from South Fort Myers High School was very candid while answering questions about his freshman year, bowl practice and next week's trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

"You've just got to treat it like it's another game. But in reality it's Ohio State, they're 24-1 in the last 25 games," Kearse said. "It's the Orange Bowl. And we're representing Clemson University, so we're going out there to play our best.

"We're trying to get things down, so we can go out there and execute. We'll just give our all."

Playing close to home has no extra meaning to Kearse.

"I'm just playing football," he said. "It doesn't really matter where I'm at, I'm still playing football. The game doesn't change just because of where we're playing. It's the same old, same old."

The team's last practice before Christmas was Saturday. They'll reconvene in Clemson at the end of the week before leaving for Miami on the 29th.

"It's been alright. We haven't been at our best," Kearse said, early last week, when asked about practice.

"But, going through the week, we're trying to get better and get better. We go out there and give it our all, we play our best," he said. "The last time we were in the Orange Bowl, it was an embarrassment to us and the university.

"So we're just going out there to make a name for ourselves, because nobody really respects us, as far as Clemson being a top-tier team in the nation."

Kearse is relatively pleased with all things have played out for him this season.

"I think the season went pretty good for me being a freshman, coming straight out of high school," he said. "Some of the things I did, I think it's just going to help me get better through my career, because I could get on the field early and contribute to us getting to the Orange Bowl."

But, moving into 2014, there are a few things that Kearse thinks he could improve.

"Probably some better practice habits and things like that, just getting in the film room and just being more of a student of the game," he said. "I think will really help me better myself for my next coming seasons in my career."

What exactly does he bring to the table in the Clemson secondary?

"Athleticism, just the way I play the ball in the air, I'm a ball hawk. Things like that. I think I really helped the team, as far as me being 6-5, able to move, play the ball well in the air and making tackles."

Kearse arrived to Clemson earlier this summer at 198 pounds. He now checks in at 205. By this time next year, he hopes his playing weight is 220.

That won't necessarily prompt a position change.

"I've just got to keep my speed up," Kearse said, "And I think I can."

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