When Clemson safety Jadar Johnson first heard that LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey were skipping their teams’ bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft, he didn’t believe it.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I had never heard nothing like that before, like you’re sitting out for a bowl game? I don’t know. I don’t understand that. I just don’t see the logic in that.”
Johnson, an Orangeburg native, said he can’t relate with players who choose to not finish out their college careers.
“A school gives you an opportunity to play football and gives you an education for free, and you’re already worrying about the next level? I just feel like that’s just thinking too far ahead,” he said. “It’s really a privilege to play college football. There’s a lot of people who wish they were in your situation. I’ve got people I played with in high school who didn’t get a chance to play college football at all. They still dream about it every day. They go into work every day dreaming, wishing to play college football.”
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While some have said bowl games other than the College Football Playoff are meaningless, Johnson doesn’t understand that logic.
“No matter how big the bowl is, that’s still a big game,” he said. “You win that as a team, and you’ll still celebrate it like it’s the biggest game of your career. You just say you don’t want to play in it? That’s not me.”
SAMUEL SEES SUCCESS
Ohio State star Curtis Samuel believes the Buckeyes can have success against Clemson’s defense, adding OSU has faced several very good defenses this season.
“They run a bunch of different defenses. Sometimes they can mess up a little bit,” he said. “We can definitely run the ball. We can pass the ball against them.”
Clemson’s No. 19 in the country in passing yards allowed, giving up 188 per game, but Samuel’s confident Ohio State can take advantage of the Tigers’ secondary.
“I’m confident against anybody. I don’t care who they have out there I’m confident in my guys,” he said.
Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins believes what happens in the trenches will be key to who wins the Fiesta Bowl.
On paper, the Tigers appear to have an advantage as Ohio State is No. 63 in sacks allowed (25), while Clemson’s No. 3 in the nation in sacks (46).
“It all starts in the trenches. Whoever can do the better job of just dominating and doing their job to the best of their abilities can really change the game in a big way,” Wilkins said.