Confident up front

CLEMSON - Corey Crawford doesn't mean for his confidence to come across as arrogance.

It's just that he believes the Clemson defensive line is going to be really good this year.

"I don't want to say we're No. 1, because I don't want to be conceded, but there's talent all around. There's no drop off from the starters to the backups," he said, earlier this spring.

Crawford is one of four starting senior defensive linemen who will be back in Clemson in 2014. And, not only are Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and Josh Watson slated to return, but so are each of their backups from 2013: Shaq Lawson, Tavaris Barnes, D.J. Reader and DeShawn Williams.

Like the four returning starters, Barnes and Williams are seniors. Reader is a junior and Lawson is a sophomore.

"It's going to be something bad for some offensive linemen," Crawford said. "We've just got to keep our heads on straight, don't get too conceded, don't get into the hype, just keep working [and] stay humble.

"We're going to be pretty good."

They want to be the best.

"That's our goal. By the end of the season, they say that the Clemson d-line is by far the No. 1," Crawford said. "I know there are other d-lines out there, but I feel like our d-line is more experienced. Everybody has played, everybody has contributed to doing something, so I feel like we've got that chance to be the No. 1 d-line."

Crawford won't be with the group during the season opener against Georgia. He's one of four players that Dabo Swinney suspended before spring practice kicked off in March.

"It's heart-breaking for me because I made the mistake that I made and I accept the punishment," Crawford said. "I've just got to let it go and be ready when South Carolina State comes along and just be productive, be as good of a teammate as I can be."

That won't be easy for the Georgia native, who gave heavy consideration to Georgia out of Carver High School in Columbus.

"Can't really dwell on it -- dwell on it as being a bad thing, because we did it to ourselves. We just have to take it and learn from it," he said. "I feel like that was the best way to learn from what we did, which is take away what we like to do best and that's play football. I'll take it as more of a learning thing than a punishment."

Despite the one-game suspension, Crawford plans to pick up right where he left off in 2013.

"That one game is not going to hold me back from doing what I do. I'm going to be aggressive. I'm going to be the team player that my team needs me to be," he said. "I don't think that first game will make me do anything different." Top Stories