CLEMSON— For Clemson cornerback Marcus Edmond, the three starts that he had last season were overshadowed by two of the biggest plays of the Tigers’ 2016 national championship campaign.
The first of his big moments came as he knocked Louisville wide receiver James Quick out of bounds at the Tigers’ 3-yard line, a yard shy of picking up a first down on fourth-and-12 with less than a minute remaining in the game—securing a Tiger victory over the then No. 3 Cardinals.
The second of his big moments came in an overtime grudge match with the N.C. State Wolfpack on Homecoming in Death Valley. After the Tigers took a 24-17 lead on the first possession of overtime, Edmond secured a Tiger victory by intercepting Ryan Finley’s deep pass into the end zone.
Even with those big plays in his back pocket, the fifth-year senior is still working to earn that starting job.
“I had a couple of big plays last year, but, like I said, it’s a new season this year and I’ve still got to make plays this year. Last year’s plays are last season,” Edmond said. “I think I have a bigger role this year, I’m a fifth-year. I made a couple of strides last season, I earned a little bit, but I still have to earn it. That’s what I’m doing out here in fall camp. But, yeah I’m looking forward to a big season.”
A big season is exactly what the coaching staff is looking for out of the man who is beginning this season listed as the second starting cornerback, opposite Ryan Carter.
But for the man who was named the winner of the defense’s 12th Man Award, with Austin Bryant and Scott Pagano, his job is not only to be a leader on the field, but off it as well—trying to help the younger player to understand that they have to work even harder this season to achieve the glory of last year once again.
“Every year is a new deal. We have to win those same games that we won last year. Like, last year’s games aren’t’ going to win this year’s games. So, that’s the truth,” Edmond said. “We’ve got a new team, so of course we’ve got a new team, new schedule, chasing for the same thing. So, it’s just a new team, new dream.”
That dream is a simple one to articulate—return to the College Football Playoff National Championship game in Atlanta this season, in hopes of defending their title.
But for Edmond, while the idea of defending the title may be in the back of this team’s mind, he believes that, after hearing the talk from around the league, it is more in the minds of opposing teams.
“It’s in the back of our mind, but it’s more in the other team’s minds I feel like,” Edmond said. “But it’s a new season, new players, last year’s last year and we’re still chasing it.”
With the Tiger defense expected to be one of the strongest in the history of the Tiger program, there are still a few questions on the defensive side of the ball that need to be answered—namely, with the departure of their vocal leader Ben Boulware to the NFL, who will step up and assume that role?
However, it may not be a case of one person stepping up to assume that role this season—as much as, it may be a collective effort.
“I feel like everybody can be a vocal leader, but everybody can lead by example too—that can be vocal at the same time,” Edmond said. “We’re still coming together. Everybody we have good chemistry on this team. We’re still trying to find those leaders, but we have good chemistry.”
Regardless of who steps up to assume the role of leader, one thing is certain for Edmond and anyone else who expects to play football at Clemson—you had better come ready to play every day.
“The level of competition out here on both sides, you’ve got to work regardless—you don’t have no choice or you’ll get exposed,” Edmond said.