For a spirited group of seniors on the Clemson Tigers football team, Thursday night at Death Valley against Georgia Tech will signal the last series of home game traditions — rubbing Howard’s Rock and surging down the hill to a thunderous game day ovation — that the players will ever experience before embarking on life beyond college.
Tremayne Anchrum, the 6-foot-2, 315-pound veteran offensive tackle who has logged more than 1,600 snaps with the team, said the first game of 2019 is going to be a memorable experience.
“Oh it’s going to be special,” Anchrum said. “I’m going to remember this one for a while because it’s my last first. People talk about their last first day of school. This is my last first time in the Valley. I’m going to take my time at the top of the hill and cherish it because it came fast. It’s almost over, and I really appreciate it.”
Anchrum said that through the course of offseason practice, the team’s enthusiasm and hunger to succeed have been evident leading up to the home opener.
“I think we have really good energy,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys ready to prove themselves and get after it. With our coaching staff, and all the leaders we have, I feel we can direct that energy to a really good place. I think we are ready to play.”
He said first-game jitters usually don’t kick in for him until hours before kickoff.
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“For me personally, I’m a methodical guy,” he said. “I like to take my time during the week and get into my routine. Butterflies usually kick in the morning of (the game) because that’s when it’s time to kick it off into action. Before that I’m usually calm. Sometimes that butterfly turns from anxious to excitement, so I like to keep it really calm.”
While members of the offensive line have no doubt put in a lot of time getting prepared for game day under coach Robbie Caldwell, Anchrum has taken notice of what is happening on the other side of the ball. When asked for his opinion on how the defensive line was progressing, he said he thought all the starters were different and bring a unique element to the team.
“Justin Foster is a powerhouse,” Anchrum said. “He’s going to be all up in your face all the time. He’s never going to let the pressure up. Logan Rudolph is a high motor guy. He always likes to switch it up. He’s coming at you from different ways. Xavier Thomas is a freak. He’s a freak of nature athletically. He’s a really gifted athlete, and he always keeps you on your toes.
“K.J. Henry is a really good guy too. I mean he’s an athlete. He’s really slick. He can create some destruction in the pass rush. Justin Mascoll is young but upcoming. He always likes to fight and is never scared to get dirty. That’s what you like to see from D-linemen.”
During a follow-up question, Anchrum said Thomas has improved in numerous areas of his game.
“He’s increased his knowledge,” Anchrum said. “He’s getting more physical. He understands that he needs to do more than just pass rush to be a good player. That’s been exciting for me to watch. It’s not exciting for me to play against obviously. I like it though.”