Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables followed Elijah Hood around Clemson when the Charlotte native came for a camp when he was in high school. Now Venables’ defense has the task of chasing the star running back around, and Venables hopes the Tigers have more success corralling Hood than he did.
“I wanted him to be my linebacker. He liked it for a little bit until he decided he wanted to be a running back. He didn’t want to be a linebacker,” Venables said Tuesday. “That was my first camp at Clemson, summer camp. He came and worked at linebacker. I had a man crush and chased him around for two and a half days. He’s a stud.”
Hood, who was named first-team All-ACC on Monday, will provide a big challenge in Saturday’s ACC championship for a Clemson defense that allows 128 rushing yards per game.
He is averaging nearly seven yards per carry and has accumulated 1,280 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns through 12 games.
“He’s a combination of, really, everything,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s got speed. He’s got power. He’s got good vision. He’s an incredible effort guy. He was that way in high school, a big time motor, just a relentless motor.”
Offensive line honored
All five members of Clemson’s offensive line made the All-ACC team with Eric Mac Lain named to the first team, Jay Guillermo to the second team and Mitch Hyatt, Joe Gore and Tyrone Crowder to the third team.
Swinney said he was confident entering the season the unit would play well despite starting Hyatt, a true freshman, at left tackle.
“Our offensive line, I mean it’s just incredible. With a true freshman left tackle, and he ain’t even shaving yet,” Swinney joked. “This offensive line is going to be really good for a while, and I’m really excited about that. This is a really, really good group that’s just going to get better.”
Tight end Jordan Leggett, who was named second-team All-ACC, said he was glad to see the offensive line get recognition.
“I was so proud of them, just really, really happy for them,” he said. “The media and everybody just questioned them all throughout the year. I’m just extremely happy, and I think it’s proven everybody wrong. They’re getting the notice that I think they deserve.”
Taking it easy with hitting
Clemson will play a game for the 10th consecutive week on Saturday, and Swinney said he has cut down on the physicality at practice.
“Do I really need to see Ben Boulware tackle Wayne Gallman one more time? Not really,” said Swinney. “The last two or three weeks we’ve tried to be smart the way we’ve gone competitive against each other. It is a long season. We know these guys can play. We’ve just got to get them to the game.”
Leggett added it is more important than ever that Clemson players eat healthy and take care of their bodies.
“Every time I wake up on Sunday, I’m real, real sore,” he said. “You’ve just got to get in the cold tub and get your body back to normal because we knew what we signed up for when we started this season.”
Peake leaning on past
Wide receiver Charone Peake is the only player on Clemson’s team who played in the ACC Championship in 2011, the last time the Tigers played in the game.
He has spoken with younger teammates about what it’s like to play for the ACC title.
“You can feel it in the atmosphere and playing in an NFL stadium. It’s a lot different,” he said. “It was a blessing. That was my first year and Clemson wasn’t coming off a good year. A lot of guys made a change and we ended up in the ACC championship. It was a good feeling.”
Peake caught one pass for 17 yards in Clemson’s 38-10 win against Virginia Tech.