Scouting a prospect is often compared to putting together a giant puzzle piece. That puzzle piece contains four moving parts that must be studied and taken into consideration. Those four parts include statistics, film, athletic testing and character. With statistics and film available online and the NFL Combine being bigger than ever, it is easier than ever for the public to come to their own conclusions on prospects. A prospect’s character is one area that remains very difficult to explore, unless you are a professional scout, but through intensive research, perhaps the task is not as impossible as it seems.
Clelin Ferrell is accustomed to seeing his name at the top of the charts. In his final season at Clemson, Ferrell led the ACC in tackles for a loss with 20 and sacks with 11.5. You can be sure that if leadership and character were measurable, the Clemson pass rusher would be at the top of the charts for that as well.
Performing on the field is enough to garner a liking from a coach but it is the way a player carries himself that garners respect from a coach. Ferrell did just that with Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Ventables, who spoke confidently in Ferrell’s ability to transition to the NFL.
“He has a great future. He’s long, athletic and has great speed. He has instincts and some real natural talent, but also has character and work ethic and the fortitude to out-compete and fight and be a great leader. He has great humility to him. All those things translate to the next level and will help him transition to the NFL. He’ll be very prepared for what’s in front of him,” Ventables said to NBC’s Scott Blair.
Ferrell’s greatest act of leadership came just after Clemson was defeated by Alabama in the 2018 Sugar Bowl. Talking to the media is often the last thought on a player’s mind, especially after a season-ending defeat in the Sugar Bowl but yet Ferrell, a redshirt-sophomore at the time chose to step to the podium and address the media. The Clemson pass rusher was not asked nor required to step up to the podium alongside head coach Dabo Swinney and Kelly Bryant but he did so willingly. According to a tweet from Tim Bourret, Clemson’s football director of communications, Ferrell approached him and said “Mr. Bourret, if you need someone to go to the press conference I will go.”
After the Alabama game last night Clelin Ferrell came to me in the locker room. “Mr. Bourret if you need someone to go to the press conference I will go.” That is leadership to the very end.
— Tim Bourret (@TimBourret) January 2, 2018
That is indeed leadership to the very end.
Rising up to the podium to face all the scrutiny and bright lights during the team’s darkest hour left a lasting impression on Clemson’s head coach.
“I’m so proud of (Clelin). It’s been fun to watch him mature and grow. You get to know these guys in the recruiting process. And he was just kind of a shy kid coming in. And just to watch him blossom into a great man, he is a great leader. He is one of the best leaders we have on this team. And, obviously, he is an outstanding football player,” Swinney told The Independent Mail.
Ferrell has also been instrumental in setting a standard in the Clemson locker room, especially with incoming freshmen. There was the story on how he handled freshman defensive lineman Xavier Kelly showing up injured after a moped accident. In an interview with Tiger Net, Ferrell was quick to point out to Kelly that he had broken team curfew.
“Instead of trying to hug him up, I was like, ‘Hey, you’re not supposed to be out past curfew, slappy. He was like, ‘Why are you being mean to me? I got bruises all up on my head.’ But I’m like, ‘No, you weren’t supposed to be out past 11.’ It’s just stuff that gets on your nerves like that. But you gotta love ’em up here and hold them accountable.”
The next stop on Ferrell’s pre-draft tour came at this year’s NFL Combine and just like he did a year ago when he showed incredible poise at the podium, Ferrell showed incredible maturity when answering questions. A player who has been known for his dedication, drive and refusal to take a play off, Ferrell was asked at this year’s NFL Combine where those traits come from.
“It just comes from, one, my love for the game. I do it because a lot of people where I come from don’t have the opportunity to do the things they love to do and I was one of the blessed ones to be able to do that. Unless there’s dire need of me to not be on the field, I’m not going to sub myself off for that. Y’know I wanna be on the field to help my teammates, that’s where it starts from. It starts from people that you play for and that’s my teammates so I want to be out there, I want to have an impact for them, I want to help us win.”
Ferrell brought his all to the field for his Clemson teammates and you can be sure that with his character and commitment to work, his future NFL teammates will bring their all for him.