It’s impossible to completely understand what is instilled in you in the military unless you’ve served. Whatever sense of duty you may have had that caused you to join is enhanced to a level you never thought possible. As is your sense of sacrifice and responsibility for the the greater good and the person next to you is something you can’t quantify or even explain.
For Raiders top pick Clelin Ferrell, he was as close to understanding these concepts as one can get without having served himself. Both of his parents served in the military. His father served in Vietnam. His mother in Operation Desert Storm. That’s the environment in which he was raised.
“For me, coming from a military family, my mom always told me, ‘Clelin, you’ve got to understand’,” said Ferrell. “That drill sergeant who was training her for war, he was hard on her all the time but he knew that that drill sergeant loved her because he didn’t want her to go out there and die on that battlefield. It’s all about good relationships and just letting the people around you know that any type of leadership role as far as holding them accountable, it comes from a good place. You want for them what you want for yourself. That’s the biggest thing. I’m all about us, I care about the people that I work with. I’m so excited to get started.”
Ferrel’s father passed away when he was 13, and his mother raised he and his 8 siblings. They looked out for each other. They depended on each other. They were a team. He took all those lessons with him to becoming a top recruit by Clemson. After a redshirt season, he would lead his new team to the top of the mountain.
“Clelin, honestly, he’s one of the best teammates and one of the best guys I’ve ever been around,” said Raiders second round pick, Trayvon Mullen. “He’s a hard-working guy and you know what you’re going to get out of Clelin every day. He’s motivated a lot of people throughout the whole season and someone to talk to, things like that. That’s the guy I go to.”
Ferrel would be the leader of the Clemson defense for three seasons, staying on for his redshirt junior season despite NFL aspirations and in so doing he once again led the Tigers defense to a second National Championship following last season. He now brings that to the NFL. Along with a maturity well beyond his years that understandably impressed Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden.
“For me, like I was blessed enough to play for a team where we competed at the highest level every year and I just remember it’s just about enjoying the journey. When you want to reach that mountain top, it’s a long road up that thing, so it’s about doing the common things in the uncommon way . . . You can’t confuse activity with accomplishment, you have to do things in a way that you know you can better yourself and you’re going to make the most of every opportunity.”
There’s no question his new teammates are going to love him and want to fight alongside him just like his former Clemson teammates. Brothers in arms on the field of battle. Just like his mother and father had drilled into them and they in turn instilled into him.