Skalski Knew Quickly After Ohio State Loss He Would Return to Clemson

Clemson linebacker James Skalski said he knew on the plane ride home after the Ohio State loss he would be returning to Clemson for a sixth season.
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It didn't take long for the quarterback of the Clemson defense to decide that he'd be returning to the Tigers for a sixth and final season. 

Linebacker James Skalski told the media on Wednesday that he knew as early as the plane ride back home after Clemson's 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl that he was coming back.

The veteran linebacker is one of a handful of Tigers that chose to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility that was granted by the NCAA and return to Clemson for a sixth season. The way the Sugar Bowl ended up playing out made it easy for him to make that decision.

"I mean I'm not going to lie," Skalski said. "When we're on the plane sitting there, I'm sitting there with Trevor (Lawrence), Nolan (Turner) and all them, just kind of discussing and I had an idea I was coming back. But when I got on that plane on the way home, I knew I was coming back for sure."

However, Skalski was quick to point out that the decision to come back was about far more than any loss.

"Of course it (loss) was a factor but I mainly came back because I didn't feel like I got a full year of health," Skalski said. "I feel like I still got room to grow and there's just a lot of uncertainties and COVID, so there's a lot more that played a factor than just that game."

Coming back for a sixth season provides Skalski with what he called a unique opportunity as the Tigers start spring practice. It also gives him a shot to win a sixth consecutive ACC Championship, something he recalls wishing he could just win once while growing up in Georgia.

"This is a unique situation and I'm just I'm thankful for it honestly," Skalski said. "Just the way everything worked out and I'm just happy to be here. The decision is done, and I'm bought in and I'm ready to go."

"It's such a hard thing to do, but it's become so normal for us to just get there. The ACC almost feels like the end of the regular season, and the playoff's the expectation. But I mean it's crazy. I remember growing up and I'm a Georgia kid watching college football and watching the ACC Championship, SEC Championship and thinking, 'Dang I wish I could win one of those.'"