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Clemson DT Tyler Davis embraces "Baby Dex" nickname


Clemson defensive lineman Tyler Davis pressures Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the Tigers' 24-10 win last Saturday. File/Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

CLEMSON — Tyler Davis did not like his new nickname. "Baby Dex," Clemson coaches and players had been calling him soon after he arrived on campus, and the freshman did not approve.

Not that he had any problems with Dexter Lawrence, the former Tigers defensive tackle to whom he was being compared, but Davis was more interested in carving his own identity at Clemson. Besides, Davis mused, how accurate was the analogy anyway?

"I don't think me and Dex look (anything alike)," Davis said Monday, smiling. "But I guess a lot of people see it."

The nickname wasn't solely the product of physical appearance, of course. The 6-2, 295-pound Davis was a 4-star recruit, per, and the No. 12 defensive tackle in the nation for the class of 2019. He's started Clemson's first two games of the season, recording seven tackles and a half sack.

Lawrence, meanwhile, was selected by the New York Giants with the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Davis isn't there yet, but perhaps the nickname is more fitting than Davis — the first true freshman to start a season opener for Clemson since 1974 — initially realized.

Lawrence has his own, more endearing nickname for Davis. 

"He calls me his son," Davis said.

Simpson, Wallace earn weekly honors 

For all of the talk about Clemson's revamped defensive line, offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell's unit has been impressive early on.

The Tigers rushed for 411 yards in their season opening win over Georgia Tech and 121 yards last week against Texas A&M, and a Clemson quarterback has only been sacked twice this season. John Simpson is one of the group's leaders, and on Monday he was named one of the ACC's Co-Offensive Linemen of the Week.

Simpson, a senior, was not the only Clemson player to be recognized. Safety K'Von Wallace was named the conference's Defensive Back of the Week, after recording a team-high 10 tackles to go along with a sack against the Aggies.

Travis Etienne earns high praise from Syracuse coach

Running back Travis Etienne had a bit of an off game running the ball Saturday, recording just 53 yards on 16 carries. He did record career highs in receptions (four) and receiving yards (52), though.

Etienne is still very much in the Heisman Trophy conversation, and Syracuse coach Dino Babers on Monday offered high praise for the junior.

"He's an NFL player in college football," Babers said. "A big solid dude. When you think about him all you want to do is smile and hope you have two or three just like him. 

"There's a reason why normally it didn't work out well if you were hitting (Hall of Famer) Jim Brown. He was a special, special guy. And Clemson has one."

Carrier Dome sells out for Clemson game

Clemson players and coaches have been asked about the difficulties of playing in the Carrier Dome all week, and for good reason. Two seasons ago, when the then-No. 2 Tigers were upset by the Orange on the road, the 42,475 fans roared throughout the contest.

There will be even more on hand this week. Tickets for the game have sold out, Syracuse announced Thursday, marking the first sellout for a football game in the Carrier Dome since 1998.

Syracuse said at least 49,057 people will be in attendance Saturday, according to's Chris Carlson

History in the making?

A victory Saturday would mark Clemson's 18th in a row, setting a record for the longest winning streak in program history.

The Tigers previously won 17 consecutive games across the final three games of the 2014 campaign and the first 14 games in 2015.

In addition, a win would be Clemson's eighth straight true road victory. 

Follow Joshua Needelman on Twitter at @joshneedelman.

Joshua Needelman covers Clemson for The Post and Courier. He's a Long Island, N.Y., native and a University of Maryland alum. He's won national and state awards in sports and feature writing, and for reasons unclear he still roots for the New York Knicks.

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