Gage Cervenka now has the right seat on the bus

Zach Lentz

Clemson—For Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney part of the job of coaching young players is helping them to understand the “right seat on the bus” for them. 

The “right seat on the bus” has a simple meaning for Swinney—making sure the right guys are in the right position to help the team and also help them get the most out of their career.

Swinney has never had an issue with allowing players to move to another position on the team, one such player is Tiger offensive lineman Gage Cervenka--a former defensive lineman who has found a home among the big-nasties on the offensive line.

In previous years’ players with names like: Vic Beasley, Eric Mac Lain, Brandon Ford and Tyler Shatley have made a change in positions and gone on to have very successful careers at Clemson and the NFL—with four of those five players currently in the NFL.

“Sometimes that’s part of it, just getting the right seat on the bus,” Swinney said. "Sometimes you need to coach them for a year before you can really kind of figure that out.

“Vic Beasley, obviously, he was a tight end, he was a linebacker and we gave him a shot at defensive end and the rest is history. You get a lot of that. Mac Lain, we got him inside and he became a great player for us.”

Redshirted as a defensive tackle before switching to offensive line in August 2016. Cervenka served as the backup center during the entire 2017 season before earning a starting role at guard (and one spot start at center) in 2018, he enters 2019 having played 711 snaps over 31 career games (eight starts). 

He boasts being one of the strongest members of the team, tying the program position record for bench press reps at 225 pounds (43). Swinney believes that he can be a Tyler Shatley type player by the end of his career.

Former lineman Tyler Shatley entered Clemson as a fullback and moved to the defensive line in 2010 and then moved to the offensive line in the spring of 2012 and was a starter on the offensive line in 2012 and 2013 for the Tigers before being signed as an undrafted free-agent in 2014.

“Gage is a tough player and his strengths as a football player are going to be accentuated on the OL,” Swinney continued. “His strengths are—strength number one. Just raw strength. Pushing and moving people and leverage—those are the things that I think really shine through. He just looks different over there.

“He looks like Shatley. He was a good D-tackle for us. He was a fourth-year junior before he moved to OL and Cervenka has four years left. So, it is a totally different deal. Making that move now bodes well for his future. I would say had Shatley been on the OL for four years, he probably would have gotten drafted instead of a free agent.”