When it comes to Clemson defense Da'Quan Bowers is it. During every game we hear his name nonstop when the defense is on the field. Bowers was rated the top prospect coming out of high school by ESPN.com before coming to Clemson and has really shone since he arrived. I was lucky enough to talk to him about playing in Death Valley, working with Dabo, and this weekends game against the undefeated Horned Frogs of TCU.
I asked Da'Quan what is so special about playing football at Clemson and he told me it is more than just football here.
He said, "It's tradition, it's an honor, it's a legacy and I'm just glad to be apart of something special." He really encompasses the whole idea of Clemson football. It really is more than just a game at Death Valley and any fan who comes will realize that in an instant.
Da'Quan calls head coach Dabo Swinney passionate about everything he does. Clemson footballs new tagline is "All In for Clemson" but Da'Quan says that to the football team "All In" is more than just a motto, it is a way of life.
Dabo has three rules for his players to maintain this way of life, both on and off the field. He says to try to give great effort, go to class, and be a good citizen. He sounds like the kind of coach whose love goes beyond the game and spreads to the well-being of each player on his roster.
One thing Da'Quan says would really interest people is the ride around to the Rock leading up to the "most exciting 25 seconds in college football," the run down the hill through the student section onto the field.
He says, "It's unreal. If everyone could experience what it's like to be atop the hill with 85,000 fans screaming for you, you would feel on top of the world."
As exciting as that moment is for the team Da'Quan says that people only see what they do 12 saturdays out of the year, when they train nonstop for 9 months to give a great performance for all of the fans.
Talking about the game Saturday against TCU, Da'Quan thinks the teams will match up well. He is looking forward to the defense coming out to show what they can do, but also to see Clemson's offense go out and score on a defense that could rival our own.
Like most college athletes Da'Quan hopes to make it to the NFL but if not he plans to coach for a living. I have known many athletes with the same dreams but I think that Da'Quan has what it takes to be successful; drive and class.
Good luck to Da'Quan and the rest of the Clemson Tigers this weekend.