Clemson will not be soft this year

CLEMSON - So much for being called soft. As he watched his teammates go through Oklahoma Drills this past spring, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller itched to get in there.

In case you don't know what the Oklahoma Drill is - it's a running back standing behind three offensive linemen that are blocking three defensive players who are going to do everything they can to tackle the ball carrier.

And by the way, the entire team surrounds them and cheers them on.

How physical is this drill? Andre Ellington carried the ball the first time the coaches ran it and when he hit the teeth of the line of scrimmage, Jarvis Jenkins, who stands almost another foot and 120 pounds more than Ellington, picked the 5-foot-10, 180-pound freshman up and body slammed him to the ground.

"That drill there is a tough-man's drill and it really gains the respect of your teammates because everyone has their eyes on you," Spiller said. "I'm really looking forward to that (in fall camp).

"It got me excited every time I watched those guys. I was just itching to get out there, but I couldn't. You have to follow the head man's word."

The head man was Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and those words were to keep Spiller and wide receiver Jacoby Ford away from any contact the entire spring so that they would be available to the track team. Though he knew it was an order, Spiller said it was hard to keep, especially with the way the team was hitting in the spring.

By the way Spiller described what he saw, perception of Clemson not being a physical football team will end this fall.

"You can see it," the Heisman Trophy candidate said. "Guys are playing until the whistle blows. That's how you have to play. This sport is all about playing until the whistles blows. This is not a nice-man sport, there is contact. You have to have toughness to play this game and you can see that we have really made that transformation from teams that we had in previous years."

Spiller can't wait to get out there and hit someone himself this summer.

"I already know I'm going to do contact in the summer," he said. "I can't go the whole spring and the whole summer without getting touched and then show up for game day and get hit."

So Spiller is working hard this summer to make sure his body is prepared for the blows he will dish out and suffer through when camp starts on Aug. 4. He says Clemson fans will love the finished product because what he saw in the spring was a sign of things to come in the fall.

"As a team, we now know what it takes to be great," Spiller said. "You can already see the transition that has taken place. We are bringing that toughness. Coach (Swinney) brings that toughness. Everyone is going to be here both summer sessions which is something that has never happened since I have been here.

"You can see guys really buying into it. Guys really want to have a great season this year, from the older guys to the younger guys, and of course it all starts with the coaches. Hard work is something that Coach Swinney has always valued and that's what he is putting in his players."

CUTigers.com Top Stories