Opponents tried to pick on Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley last year as he played opposite All-American Mackensie Alexander, and when they did Tankersley made them pay.
Now he is ready to prove his five-interception season in 2015 wasn’t a fluke, and that he is a legit lockdown corner.
“I have to show that I’m not a one-hit wonder,” Tankersley said earlier this week.
The senior led the Tigers in interceptions last season and was named third-team All-ACC, but he feels like he still has plenty to prove entering his final year at Clemson.
Tankersley is showing up to practice every day competing as if he is a player that no one knows instead of the seventh-best cornerback in the country, which is the preseason ranking he received by Lindy’s.
“I feel like I kind of made a statement (in 2015). I’m trying to prove that it wasn’t a luck year,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, don’t take no days off, just try to grind every day like I’m a freshman.”
Tankersley is the only returning starter in Clemson’s secondary and the veteran of a unit filled with youth.
He has never been much of a talker, leaving that to Alexander and Jayron Kearse in the past, but now he knows he has to be a vocal leader.
“I didn’t talk much last year, really. I just let my play do its talking,” Tankersley said. “Now I feel like I have to do both, let my play and my vocals speak and come out and be hungry every day and take my game to another level.”
Even though Clemson has to replace three starters in the secondary, Tankersley doesn’t expect much of a drop off.
He said there is plenty of talent, even if it is young, and he likes the mindset he has seen from the rest of the defensive backs.
“That’s how it has to be… Don’t get complacent. Be hungry every day,” he said. “You have to start over every year. I think that’s going to be the mindset of our defense.”
He added that facing Clemson’s talented and deep receiving corps at in practice will help the Tigers.
Tankersley and the other DBs have to go up against Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, Hunter Renfrow, Ray-Ray McCloud and the rest of the Clemson wideouts, who have been named the top group in the country by several media outlets.
“Going back and watching film and trying to learn each of our receiver’s releases and what they do, what they like to do, what they don’t like to do, that’ll helps us along the season when we study other receivers,” he said. “We’re not going to see anything better than what we have.”
Tankersley said Mike Williams in particular is a headache to match up against.
“It’s the hardest thing ever. It really is,” he said. “You can have the best technique on him and make the best jam on him, but if he still makes that catch none of it matters.”