Players must be 'All-in' to compete

CLEMSON - sits down with Clemson strength and conditioning coordinator Joey Batson for the third-part of a multi-part series.

No one was surprised to hear Jacoby Ford won the indoor 60-meter national championship back on March 14.

Ford, a three-time All-American in track, came to Clemson as one of the fastest athletes in the country. So far during his time with the Tigers on the football field and on the track he has done nothing to disprove that theory.

Besides being a national champion on the track, Ford also has recorded six touchdowns of 50-plus yards in his football career - third most in school history. He has also proven to be a pretty reliable wide receiver as well.

Last year he was second on the team in receiving yards with 55 catches for 710 yards and four touchdowns. In fact, he had the longest reception by a wide receiver all season when he had a 50-yard catch and run for a touchdown against South Carolina to help clinch a spot in the Gator Bowl.

He also had catches of 47 and 46 yards against Alabama and Nebraska.

When people see Jacoby Ford, they probably just think to themselves that is expected, but what they don't understand is how hard he works to do the things they see. Since coming to Clemson in January of 2006, Ford has probably improved more than any other player - both athletically and physically.

"People don't realize what they do," said Joey Batson, Clemson's director of strength and conditioning. "They (the fans) see Jacoby Ford for four years and they think he looks the same, but Jacoby has gained 25 pounds.

"He has gained 25 pounds in four years and then the guy goes out and wins a national championship. Those things just don't happen by chance."

Players like Ford are generally the norm in collegiate athletics, especially in football.

"You take a look at 105 of those players and you have to look at each one's needs and take the core of what you do and the core of the program and the things that you believe that they need to build strength, power and speed," Batson said.

Sure, Clemson has its Da'Quan Bowers from time-to-time, but for every Bowers there is a Jacoby Ford or an Aaron Kelly.

"All of them come in at different levels. Da'Quan's level of DNA and what his make-up was is a whole different than other people," Batson said. "He is kind of almost ready made. He just has to stay in shape and continue to work. Where another kid has to really develop himself - like a guy like Byron Clear.

"It takes three years to maybe get him to a point to where he can actually go out and compete. So where one guy is ready, there is one guy that isn't ready."

Kelly, who just finished the most productive career by a Clemson wide receiver in history, was one of those guys. At 6-foot-5, Kelly came to Clemson weighing around 170 pounds. By the time he finished at Clemson, he was approaching 200 pounds.

"He still looks thin, but people don't realize how big he's got," Batson said. "They just kind of remember what he looked liked on the field and they don't see him every day and see how he has matured as an athlete. He gained about five pounds a year and got stronger."

Batson says head coach Dabo Swinney's "All-in" phase is a perfect description of how dedicated a player not only has to be the program, but to themselves if they want to one day compete in the NFL.

"That's what you have to be," he said. "You have to be all-in to do it. You have to be all-in. Every position is different.

"The O-line, their needs are different than the defensive line. Receivers are different than running backs and running backs are different than defensive backs and defensive backs are different than linebackers so every position has different components.

"I think the thing you have to do at this level, and this is still foundational strength building and power building stuff. They go from high school to this level and this is the area where they really have to develop themselves as athletes and as players." Top Stories