Catching Up with C.J. Gaddis

CUTigers.com caught up with starting cat safety C.J. Gaddis to get his thoughts on the offseason, his move to defense, his career in baseball, and much more in this exclusive interview!

How do you think spring practice went for you this year?
Gaddis: The spring was good. Mainly I was working to get myself better, in all kind of phases, whether school or on the field. As far as the team goes, I think we've seen ourselves develop every single day and it's good to see the progress.

Describe the cat safety position, what exactly does it do?
Gaddis: It's a safety, slash cornerback, slash linebacker. It can cover in man like a corner, it can cover the field like a safety, and it can factor in with run support like a linebacker. It all depends on the coverage.

What is the biggest obstacle with your development as a cat safety?
Gaddis: It varies. I'll always have to work on my game but right now I'm focused on perfecting my role in the defense and my fundamentals. Working on my backpedaling and my footwork will improve my overall technique, and I work hard at those things everyday.

Who is backing you up?
Gaddis: Right now I think it's Mike Hamlin.

You were brought in as quarterback, now you are on defense. What has been the most difficult part in adjusting to that switch?
Gaddis: It's a difference with how the defense plays. Defense is mainly doing your job and then running to the ball. I had to teach myself to do that coming from the offense, and that was the hardest thing; to run after somebody. On offense, you generally make plays by getting away from people.

What did you take from playing offense that you use on defense?
Gaddis: I have a general idea of how offenses might try to attack a defense and so I take that with me. I have an understanding of quarterbacks and audibles so that helps with the strategic part of the game.

Do you still have any urges to play on offense?
Gaddis: Yeah, I think everybody wants to be able to do more. I have a dream of going over and catching a hitch or something and making a play every now and then. I feel everyone should want to do all they can and that will always be there with me, so you never know.

What about special teams?
Gaddis: Yeah hopefully. I'm trying to get the return job and I think I can get it. If I get a couple of returns a game I think I can do some things to change the outcome.

What do you bring to the defense?
Gaddis: I think the biggest thing I have is range. I feel I can make a lot of plays everywhere if I continue to learn what I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to do it. I think I also have good size and speed.

What do you need to work on?
Gaddis: Everything.

Who helps you the most on defense?
Gaddis: Coach Vic, he knows everything. As far as the seniors, Fudge and Tye. They're understanding of certain things but mainly coach Vic tells me what I need to know.

What does Koening stress to you personally?
Gaddis: To go full speed all the time. He says that if I do that, I'll be in position to make a lot of plays and will be fully using my ability.

You've played both sports at Clemson. So which is it for you, baseball or football?
Gaddis: Football. Baseball is my first love but football right now is number one.

Why aren't you playing baseball?
Gaddis: I'm just giving it a break. A lot has changed for me in football, with new positions and new opportunities. Next year will be a big year for me in football so I'm just dedicating my time and focusing my attention on becoming the best that I can be. Besides, football is paying the bills.

What position would you play in baseball?
Gaddis: Anywhere in the outfield.

What is your relationship like with coach Leggett?
Gaddis: Coach Leggett is cool, he's one of my all time favorite coaches. He's really one of my favorite people too. I feel we have a great relationship, I like coach Leggett a lot.

How does the baseball team feel right now?
Gaddis: They feel good. It was a good season, though you always want to be the champion. I feel they don't have any reason to hold their heads down.

Two sport athletes are rare in college. How did you get good enough to play Division I in both?
Gaddis: I believe God blessed me with a certain amount of athletic ability and I was able to do both. I've played baseball since I was little and everyone thought I would be good in that. Football was something I came across in high school and I picked it up. Being good enough to do both does take a real commitment of time and energy though.

You seem like you have a lot of ability (offense, defense, special teams, baseball) but no one can do everything. How are you going to capitalize off all of you gifts without sacrificing your future in one specific area?
Gaddis: Well, you never can burn both ends of the candle, so I try to work on one thing at a time. I think I'm doing that now more so than ever, but once I start really getting better and comfortable with myself and what it takes to be a great player in this defense. I'll have some extra time to pick other things back up and work on becoming better at them.

What are your plans for the summer?
Gaddis: My plans are to go to school, do the best with my grades, and work hard to get ready for the season.

You have anything you want to pass along to the fans on CUTigers.com?
Gaddis: It definitely should be a good year so you definitely should come out to support us. We always have a good time at the games and we're all family so I look forward to enjoying the season with you.

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