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Clanton believes in team, self
Former Spring Valley star sets lofty goals at The Citadel
Erik Clanton has done the math.
After recording 1 1/2 quarterback sacks in Saturday’s 26-14 victory against Presbyterian, The Citadel’s senior defensive end knows he is 6 1/2 shy of tying the Bulldogs’ record of 12 in one season. It’s a goal the former high school standout at Spring Valley set for himself before the season.
“After I looked at the record and saw the teams that we were playing and the types of offenses they run, I thought there was no reason why I couldn’t get two sacks a game,” Clanton said.
It was a bold prediction from a player who had three sacks in his first three seasons. But Clanton recorded four in the Bulldogs’ 56-14 season-opening win againstChowan to get him one-third of the way to the record after one game.
“That’s my goal … to beat the school sack record,” Clanton said. “I also want to become an all-conference player and double the amount of tackles I had my first three years.”
Clanton and his teammates came back to reality on Sept. 11 when the Bulldogs were routed 52-6 at No. 23 Arizona. But he insists the lopsided loss did not damage his team’s confidence.
“Our first game was pretty much us seeing what we can do,” Clanton said. “We worked hard in preseason and pretty much put our bodies through hell. Our first game was pretty much like our payday.
“The performance level between Chowan and Arizona was a really big jump. We had to pretty much buckle up and hang on for the ride.”
Clanton said the Bulldogs left Arizona having learned much about themselves.
“As a defense, we came out knowing that we weren’t exactly where we wanted to be,” Clanton said. “We realized that these are our flaws, these are what we need to work on.
“As far as the offense, we’re still trying to get the wishbone and triple option going. Going from the spread to a triple option is going to take time.”
The Citadel (2-1) travels to Furman (1-1) on Saturday for its Southern Conference opener. Clanton is confident the Bulldogs, picked to finish last in the SoCon media preseason poll, can turn some heads.
“I know in my heart we can win the SoCon,” Clanton said. “I think we can also be a contender for the national championship. We just have to go through the whole process. We have to go hard in practice and play hard.”
Clanton plans to go all out to rewrite The Citadel record book.
“Last year, I had only one or two sacks,” Clanton said. “This year, my mentality is to play every game like it’s my last and go all out.”
By Coy Slavik, The State