Clelin Ferrell Wants To Be This Generation’s Dwight Freeney

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Clelin Ferrell’s story has been told so many times, the important parts start to feel like bullet points on a resume. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Parents met in the military. One of nine children. Lost his father to cancer in high school. Spurned the NFL Draft to come back to Clemson for one more year and win another national championship.

As Ferrell has gone through the ringer that is the NFL Draft process, he’s been poked and prodded by countless media outlets and NFL teams alike that his tale has started to feel like a script for a television show pilot.

“Trust me, you find out a lot about yourself,” Ferrell said. “It’s funny, everyone wants to know who you are as a person. So through that, you really have time to think, like, ‘Oh, OK, I really am this type of person!’ When you’re playing football in college, you have no time to just self-reflect on things. But now, I’ve had more time to really self-reflect.”

As a member of a stacked defensive line from Clemson that featured names like Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, Ferrell probably places third in that group in terms of name recognition. But the three-year starter for the Tigers has methodically climbed up draft boards after racking up 11.5 sacks in 2018, to the point where he’s widely expected to be taken in middle of the first round or higher on Thursday night in Nashville.

As he waits to find out where he’ll begin his professional career, Ferrell spoke with UPROXX on behalf of Hyundai about what these past few months have been like, how he turned himself into an elite pass rusher and his plans for Trevor Lawrence once the Clemson phenom reaches the NFL.

What’s going through the process of preparing for the NFL Draft been like for you?

It’s been really, really good. Obviously there’s been struggles, just because it’s a different thing where I’m doing more stuff on my own now. Now the media doesn’t go through Clemson compliance to get in contact with me, they just go through me. I’m having to be mindful of my time. It’s something that I’ve been prepared for. But it’s been really good man, I’ve been excited to meet all the new coaches and NFL legends that I’ve met through this process. I’m just blessed to be in this position. I’m so anxious to figure out where I’m going and start my new journey.

Has it felt like the actual draft has taken forever to arrive?

Hell yes! Way too long.

You mentioned getting to meet some NFL legends. Who’s the coolest person you’ve run in to?

Growing up I was a (Baltimore) Ravens fan. I remember hearing so much about Ozzie Newsome and all the players that he drafted. Obviously the players he drafted were my favorite players, so when I met him at the Combine, I was kind of starstruck. Like, ‘that’s Ozzie Newsome, he drafted Jonathan Ogdon and Ray Lewis and all those guys.’ I was like, ‘whoa.’ So that was really really cool to meet him.