South Carolina and defensive line coach Brad Lawing have the tough task of replacing two integral pieces of the puzzle from the 2011 season this spring. Future first-round pick Melvin Ingram and NFL Draft hopeful Travian Robertson have both contributed in some capacity since they set foot on campus their freshman seasons.
If there was ever a defensive lineman who could play quarterback, it'd be South Carolina's Melvin Ingram
Lawing has had the task of coaching them over the course of their careers and both developed into influential linemen during the South Carolina careers. With Pro Timing Day behind them and the NFL Draft upcoming, Lawing took a moment to reflect back on their careers.
Could you reflect on the careers of Robertson and Ingram from when they arrived to when they left?
Travian was a little bit different because he came in during January after his high school semester, he was very mature for his age and was more learning college football and learning the pace of the game. He probably had to do more his freshman year than he needed to but we didn’t have a lot of players there. Melvin came in as a linebacker and had to transition to his hand down.
For Melvin in particular how much satisfaction was there in seeing in progress to where he is now and being a potential first round pick?
Anytime you see one of your players becoming what they can be, there is a great sense of pride as a coach. A coach’s job is to make players do things they can’t make themselves do and with Travian and Melvin both went through that to a certain degree. Maybe Melvin more because he didn’t want to be a lineman, he wanted to be something else.
What was the biggest accomplishment for both of the players in your eyes during their tenure at South Carolina?
I am very proud of both of those guys - they both graduated. Travian played his senior year as a graduate and Melvin graduated in December. Not many people gave Melvin much of a chance to graduate because school wasn’t very important to him. Then it became important to him and I am proud of him for that.
Was there a particular time when you talked to Melvin and you thought he saw the light and adjusted to what you want?
I sat him down in my office one time and told him, ‘You have tons of ability but you don’t want to practice hard, you seem very disinterested. You are going back to Rockingham if this continues because after college that is where you are heading. After you play your last college football game that is where you will end up and it will be a shame to waste all this ability that you possess.’
Talk about the South Carolina defensive line during your time at South Carolina. You talked about changing the DNA when you arrived and looking ahead to future NFL rosters it appears you have done that.
Eric (Norwood), Cliff (Matthews), Melvin and Travian this year and then Devin next year and then you have Clowney, we just have to keep that rolling. I have always looked at it as it is about player evaluation and not about stars. We try to make the best evaluations that we can and then it is about player development. I always tell kids the two most important coaches to you when you go to school are your position coach and that strength coach because that strength coach is with you all year and that position coach teaches you how to play.