After the initial shock of not being able to fulfill his goal of leading the Tigers to an ACC title, Waters has accepted his fate and is looking forward with high spirits.
"I'm disappointed that it happened, but it's a good thing it kind of happened right now early in the season," he said. "My main focus right now is get to surgery and get to rehab and just keep my head up that way."
Waters sustained a torn ACL a knee, which will require about four months of rehab after reconstructive surgery, which will take place Sept. 18.
"There was a time I thought about, ‘Oh, I'm hurt. What am I going to do?'" he said. "And the conclusion (I came to) was the only way this injury can get to me is if I let it get to me. If I dwell on it … sit there and cry about it, that's not going to get me anywhere. There's no reason why I should walk with my head down. It happened so it's pretty much up to me now."
Waters said he hasn't second-guessed his coming back to Clemson and forgoing the NFL last season. He said he's still on pace to graduate in December and getting his degree is something he and his family really want.
"The injury is short term, but the degree is career, long term," he said. "They can't take that from you."
As usual, Waters has had to be the rock for the rest of his family to lean on, even though the injury is to him. He's been the steadying force.
"I told my family it's not the end of the road," he said. "I've still got a bright future ahead of me. They told me to keep working hard. Hard work is what got me here now, that's basically all I know."
Though his collegiate career is over, Waters said he still plans on playing an active role with the team. He will continue to be a leader defensively, though it will be from the sidelines and on crutches.
"The team looks to me in so many different ways," he said. "Why would he not tell me to go to Boston? It's not like I went out to get a drug charge or something like that. There's certain things a coach can say to players and there's certain things a player can say to another player, so I guess he kind of needs me there for that. I take that as a compliment.
"It says that somewhere in my career I did something that caught his attention. He asked me if I wanted to go on the trip (to Boston College) and I said ‘Yes, sir.' That's a big (compliment) to me for him to even ask that."
Waters hasn't waited long to get back into the swing of things as far as being a leader is concerned. He may have been the most important person on the field defensively because he was the vocal leader as well as the physical one.
"I've been talking to all those guys," Waters said. "I'm done, and I can't play no more this season, but life goes on. It's an opportunity for someone else to step up and show they can play.
"I'm pretty sure those guys are going through a lot of things. ‘What are y'all gonna do now that Anthony's gone?' I went through the same thing. ‘What are you gonna do now that John Leak's gone? What are you gonna do now that Leroy Hill is gone?' Now it just gives those guys an opportunity to show what they can really do."
Waters Remains Positive
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