CLEMSON — The Tigers spent Christmas early this year with families, enjoying the holiday festivities before getting down to business in Phoenix, site of their playoff game against Ohio State.
However, with the season of giving in full swing, many Clemson players have “presents” that they want to give to their teammates ahead of their College Football Playoff semifinal game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Dec. 28.
For some, the idea of what gift they would give to their teammates came easy.
“It’s kind of an intangible thing, but just caring about everyone,” wide receiver Amari Rodgers said. “Just love, serving and caring a little bit more — that’s going to be what it takes to get us to the top. Just being able to give to your brother, and wanting him to succeed and doing whatever you can do to help your brother. So, a little more care.”
For others, choosing a gift was a little more difficult.
For defensive end Xavier Thomas, the difficulty was not because he did not want to give a gift to his teammates — it was because he feels like they don’t need to be given anything to come away from their trip to the desert with a victory.
“That’s tough because I feel like we’ve got everything that we need to win,” Thomas said. “But I would give them an overall mindset. That we’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to be ready with all of the mental aspects, and coming into every meeting, every practice like we’ve got to dominate this. We’ve got to dominate ever phase of everything. We’ve got to be physical, but just the overall mindset. But if I could give a gift, it would be the overall mindset — that killer instinct.”
That “killer instinct” would appear to be a popular gift, with seven of the 12 players asked choosing that as their gift to their teammates.
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With many players giving gifts of intangibles like passion or an increased focus, the head coach Dabo Swinney also has a list of things that he is hoping Santa brings.
Some, much like his players, are intangibles — things like peace and quality time with his family as they prepare for Christmas with.
“Just good peace and happiness and health for my family and an opportunity to enjoy a moment with them,” Swinney said.
But one thing is a little more tangible.
A little more in line with what the thousands of Tiger fans around the country are hoping for this Christmas — a win.
“A win in Arizona. That’s it. That’s all I’m looking for,” Swinney said.
That is the only thing safety Tanner Muse wants this Christmas.
“A win. That’s it. Nothing more,” Muse said. “We have worked too hard all year and two more wins — against Ohio State and in the national championship. That is all I want. That’s what I’m asking Santa for this year.”