CORAL GABLES, Fla. — True freshmen may be garnering most of the headlines as key cogs of this University of Miami football team, but don’t forget about redshirt senior tight end Clive Walford.
Walford, who decided to return for a final season rather than enter the NFL Draft, finds himself near the top of several statistical categories. His 23 catches, which lead the Hurricanes, ranked seventh in the nation before Saturday’s slate of games. They have gone for 306 yards (third) and four touchdowns (second).
Earlier this week, the 23-year-old was one of 33 players across the country named to the John Mackey Award midseason watch list, an honor bestowed upon the country’s top tight end.
FOX Sports Florida’s Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) caught up with Walford, whom you can follow on Twitter (@OGSlick_46), about his basketball roots, his old ‘do and what’s left to accomplish …
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: You redshirted your freshman year. How important do you think it was for you to sit out and watch football from a distance?
CLIVE WALFORD: It was very beneficial because I got to see a lot of great players actually play the game. I learned a lot of things from them. I took it as a positive and not as a negative.
FSF: Those eight starts as a freshman… Was it then or later on you saw the turning point where ‘I’m a football player. I’m not just a guy who played basketball’?
WALFORD: Even high school when I first played I felt like I was a football player because at the tight end position you have to know how to block and catch and do a lot of things. In high school I did those things very well, so I felt like I would be OK at the position.
FSF: Dunking the ball or scoring a touchdown? Any preference? What’s maybe got more of an emotional high?
WALFORD: That’s tough because it depends on what type of game you’re getting a dunk in and what kind of game you’re scoring a touchdown in. I would say it’s pretty much the same kind of feeling.
FSF: Will you ever go back to them?
WALFORD: I will. Soon.
FSF: Could you describe what you hear and see on the field in a play?
WALFORD: Well, for one, a lot of smack talk. You have to listen for audibles. The defender’s talking trying to throw you offsides. A lot of chattering.
FSF: You were a sport administration major. Has there been any crossover lessons — stuff you learned whether it be marketing or psychology — that helped you on the field?
WALFORD: Not necessarily. Playing football is two acres and a ball. It’s all about football. No marketing, no sport admin. Nothing like that.
FSF: Did you ever encourage your classmates to come to a game?
WALFORD: I think my junior year I did in one of my classes for Dr. Evans. Virginia Tech (on Nov. 9, 2013). It was a big game for us because we needed to win that game in order for us to go (on) in the Coastal Division.
FSF: When’s an instance when they make you feel old? Duke (Johnson) was just teasing you about it.
WALFORD: The coaches always tell the older guys on the team to be leaders and they should lead. Duke’s always making jokes towards me saying I’m old and I need to stop getting treatment and things like that. It’s all jokes. Nothing serious.
FSF: How would you describe yourself?
WALFORD: To what sense?
FSF: In general. As a human being. As a football player.
WALFORD: Humble. Cool, and aggressive.
FSF: Last thing. What do you still want to accomplish as a college player? It can be both as a team and personal.
WALFORD: I would like — for me, my coaches and family — I’d like to win the Mackey Award. Just continue to lead this team and be a go-to target for the quarterback and help my team win.