The Tigers' young wide receivers coach started last season as a graduate assistant before taking over for Dabo Swinney at mid-season when Swinney was named interim head coach. Jeff did such a good job with the receivers during that time, Swinney decided to keep him on, and now he is working with his dad on the offensive staff.
"I think the neatest thing about it — is not even talked about," Jeff
said. "That just tells me the coaching staff and the players accept me for
my own reasons and coaching background and maybe what I have to offer
"Obviously it's a great opportunity and experience. Not only to get the
opportunity to play for my dad when I was playing here, but now I get the
opportunity to coach with him. It is something that we enjoy, but on a
daily bases it is not something that is brought up.
"I interact with him in the same way that I interact with all of our
In a way, Jeff has been doing that with his father ever since he was five
when Brad was the offensive line coach at Florida State. Every day after
school, he would run to the practice fields to be around his dad and the
When Brad took the head job at South Carolina in 1994, he did the same
thing. He was always around his dad and was always soaking up as much
knowledge as possible.
And though 1998 wasn't the most pleasant experience of his young life to
live through, Jeff learned a whole lot on how to handle things when his
dad got fired as the Gamecocks head coach.
"A lot of people will say that I have been warned about going into this
profession," Jeff said. "I think that I really got to see two sides of it.
The first 12 years I was at Florida State when Florida State just made
that unbelievable run.
"So I have been able to see it from the highest level, and then when we
went to South Carolina. That first year he had success there and I was
able to see that and then over the next four years to see how difficult it
is. I think I have seen both sides of the dial."
Jeff said his dad's experiences, even the ones here at Clemson, have given
him an inside knowledge of the game most young coaches at this level, or
any level for that matter, don't have.
"I think it has helped give me a better perspective on the profession and
the understanding that ultimately it comes down to wins and losses," he
said. "Each person has their own beliefs and foundation of how they want
to coach and how they want to do things, but in the end it ultimately
comes down to wins and losses.
"One thing I've learned is that you can work really hard and do a good
job, but at the end of the day there is a little bit of luck factor in
Which he says is why he is at Clemson today.
"You can look at our games last year, and how many close games late in the
year like Boston College were there? That could make a huge difference for
everyone on this staff," Jeff said. "If C.J. Spiller does not make that
great kickoff to get us in position to score at Boston College, we might
not win that game and I'm probably not sitting here.
"So your whole coaching life and profession could take a 10-year head
start or could go back the other way."
Instead Jeff's has gone pretty much in the same direction as his father's
since the day he was old enough to pick up a football.
"Honestly, when I was coaching in high school, I think he was hoping that
I would enjoy it enough to stay in it," Jeff said. "But growing up in the
background that I had, there was nothing I could do but jump right in the
middle of it and take my chance.
"It has given me a good perspective of college football and the business.
All of these coaches that we have here have had some great experiences and
they also have had some tough experiences and I think for the most part
everybody in this profession has been hired at a great job and has also
been fired at times. The biggest thing is you have to coach the way that
you have been coaching and do what you believe in doing and let everything
else take care of itself."
When Jeff and Brad are in the Clemson football offices these days, it's
all about business. He says no one really thinks about the two of them
being father and son. It's just all about work and all about making the
Clemson football program the ACC's best.
"We really enjoy doing things together whenever we are not here at
football. Like in the summer, we will go golfing and do those sorts of
things," Jeff said. "He has really given me a lot of space. A lot of
people will ask me do you go to your dad for advice. Obviously there are
those times that maybe if something is big that I have a question about or
I have to make a decision on then I might give him a call.
"But for the most part, and growing up around him, I think that those 15
to 18 years there between 5 years old and 23, I learned a lot from him
there. I really spend more time talking to Coach (Kevin) Steele, Coach
(Dan) Brooks, Billy Napier and Coach (Charlie) Harbison.
"Those guys have a wealth of knowledge and have been doing this for a long
time and have been successful. I really want to learn from those guys and
learn from those experiences because I have been around my dad his whole
life so I have seen that so now I want to learn from some of the other
Learning from Dad's experiences
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