On to round two

Jay Guillermo's dream finally came true in the second game of his redshirt freshman season.

After a quick rub of Howard's Rock, Guillermo took off down the hill just moments before Clemson kicked off against South Carolina State. He snapped the ball 57 times against the Bulldogs that afternoon, matching the number on his jersey.

Finally, after more than a year on the team and a lifetime of pulling for the Tigers, Guillermo could finally say that he played football at Clemson.

Guillermo received his Clemson offer on Signing Day in 2011, when he was a junior at Tennessee's Maryville High School.

"I've always been a Clemson, ever since I was born," he told CUTigers the night he was offered. "I don't even know why. Nobody in my family is a big Clemson fan. My grandfather, he played football, and he got recruited by them. He's always liked them. I've just always loved Clemson."

Just a few days after saying there was a 90-95 percent chance that he was committing to Clemson, Guillermo pulled the trigger and became the first commitment to the Tigers' 2012 class.

Guillermo appeared in eight games in 2013, his first season of action, logging 182 snaps as Ryan Norton's backup at center.

"It's exciting," Guillermo said of the start to his career at Clemson. "It's something I've wanted my entire life. It's something I've worked for my entire life. It's something I'm still working for. It's really exciting."

But Guillermo remains the No. 2 center on the Clemson depth chart. While he wants to play more, Guillermo understands there's work to be done.

"There are about 10 of us. The first and second team, we're just working our butts off every day just to get better, to make each other better," Guillermo said. "Of course, we all want that top spot."

So, what exactly does he need to improve in his game to help make that happen?

"I'd have to say my hands. Sometimes, I let guys too much in my chest. Just being more consistent with my hands I guess. Just not having to be aware and thinking about using them, just doing it naturally."

In addition to the help he gets from offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell and the rest of the staff at Clemson, Guillermo also picks up advice from his grandfather, Ron Greene, a longtime football coach in North Carolina.

"He's been here a couple of times. He really helps me a lot. We'll go over some film [and] some stuff after practice, because we've got the iPads.

"He'll try to help critique my technique and everything. He's a huge help, just because he's been around football for nearly 40 years coaching. That's not him playing also, college and everything."

Guillermo also counts the defensive tackles he does battle with in practice every day among those who have helped along the way.

"It's been nice getting to go against Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams, Josh Watson and all those guys. It's really, really nice to go against that kind of competition," Guillermo said. "Not to take anything away from D.J. Reader or Carlos Watkins, but there's something special about Grady."

And, for Guillermo, there's something special about being where he is right now.

"I've always loved Clemson," he said. "I've always been a Clemson Tiger. I've bled orange and purple since I was little, so that does make it exciting."

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