CHARLOTTE, N.C.- A lot of factors play into a high school prospect's decision regarding which college football program he ultimately decides to suits up for.
For veteran linebacker James Skalski, it basically came down to his love for the Clemson coaching staff. The product of Northgate High in Sharpsburg, Georgia told the media at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte that his relationships with head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables played a vital role in him becoming a Tiger.
"Swinney and then coach V," Skalski said. "My coach growing up was just like him, in your face yelling. So before I even knew the character Swinney possessed, I fell in love with Coach Venables."
Skalski said his desire to be the very best player he could be meant he wanted to play for the very best coaches and in his eyes, there was no better linebacker coach in the country than Venables.
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"In my eyes, he was the best linebacker coach in the country, and I wanted to play for that," Skalski said. "To be my best I wanted to play for the best. And then you know, Swinney, being Swinney on top of that, you can't beat that. I couldn't say no to Clemson."
Skalski is now heading into his sixth season with the Tigers. Playing for Venables for such a long period of time has given the two the opportunity to develop a unique bond and Skalski said there is no one he respects more than his longtime position coach at Clemson.
"We've been working with each other for so long, I think we really understand each other," Skalski said. "He knows how to get the best out of me. He knows how to push my buttons, I know how to push his buttons. Man, I've just learned so much from him. I've gotten the most respect in the world for Brent Venables, that guy is so special to me."