Sept. 6, 1999
by Marsha Byers
After working hard for several months in preparation for the 1999 season, senior cornerback Dextra Polite is anxious to begin his final campaign as a Clemson Tiger. The Moultrie, GA native has been waiting for two long years to start and feels he is ready to show the new coaching staff and Clemson fans what he is made of.
Fans saw a glimpse of Polite’s ability during last season’s game versus Georgia Tech in Death Valley when he played in place of the injured Antwan Edwards. Edwards, a first-team All-America selection by Football Digest last season, is now a member of the Green Bay Packers. Polite played a solid game versus the Yellow Jackets, seeing action in 75 snaps and finishing the contest with four tackles and a pass broken up.
“I got some satisfaction from that game because I felt that I stepped up and did what I had to do to help the team,” commented Polite. The Georgia Tech game is the only start of Polite’s career, however, he did play in all 11 games for the Tigers last season. One of the key influences on Polite throughout his career has been Edwards. “Playing behind Antwan really taught me a lot. Throughout his career here, he was a great leader. He was an excellent player and coach to the secondary.”
Polite, a speech and communications major who plans to proceed into the broadcasting field, came to Clemson after transferring from Georgia Military College. At Georgia Military College, he was named one of the 11 best junior college prospects in the nation at defensive back by PrepStar and was a second-team Gridwire All-American in 1996. In one season at Georgia Military, Polite had 21 tackles (16 solo), five interceptions, four passes broken up, one sack and six blocked field goals. Three of the six blocked field goals came in one game against Middle Georgia.
Off the field, Polite cites the military college experience as one that taught him how to deal with the problems in today’s world. At the school, he learned to deal with day-to-day struggles without having the guidance of his parents to help him. Polite feels the experience made him a well-rounded person and helped him develop leadership skills.
Before arriving at Georgia Military, Polite played his high school football at Colquitt County under coach Jim Hughes. Polite was a standout on a team that went undefeated and won the state championship, then participated in the prestigious Georgia-Florida All-Star Game.
Polite chose to come to Clemson because of its strong defensive tradition. Thanks to the influence of one of his coaches at Georgia Military, Polite felt he would fit into the Clemson defensive scheme.
At Clemson, Polite has played in 19 of the last 23 games. This season will mark his third year playing for the Tigers, making Polite one of the few junior college transfers to play three years at Clemson.
In his first season in orange and white, Polite saw action in eight games. He only made it in for 16 snaps in 1997, but they were an efficient 16 snaps. He had eight tackles, with six coming as first hits. His season high of three tackles came in a road win at Wake Forest that season.
His numbers increased during the 1998 season, when he finished with 16 tackles (11 first hits) and three passes broken up. His playing time significantly increased over the last three games of the season. Of the 170 snaps he saw action in last season, 119 came in the last three games. Polite has developed an admiration for the new Tiger coaching staff. “The new coaches are very motivated and they help me play to my ability, and not just go through the motions of practice,” said Polite. “There is definitely a sense of family among the new coaches. They treat the players like we are their own sons.”
His feelings for the coaching staff inspired Polite throughout the spring. The two-year letterwinner made a move from reserve cornerback heading into the spring, to first-team cornerback at the end of spring practice. In the spring game, Polite recorded five tackles and two pass deflections. He recorded an interception in two of the three spring scrimmages.
Polite is hoping that his success in the spring will serve as a springboard for success in the fall. “My two goals heading into my final year at Clemson are to graduate and be the best player on the field that I can be,” stated Polite. “I also want to become the type of leader on the field that I know I am capable of becoming.”
As a child, Polite loved the game of football. He admired many players and hoped to one day make it big. His favorite football player is Deion Sanders. Sanders’ great all-around play has inspired Polite to practice hard in hopes of one day playing like his idol. Polite loves the way Sanders excites the crowd. “Sanders knows how to step up when his team is not doing well. He does something spectacular to excite the crowd. This crowd excitement then ignites the team and soon Sanders’ team is back on top. That is the type of player I want to be.”
Polite is the youngest of five children and the only male among the siblings. Being the younger brother to four sisters has not been easy, but it has been a learning experience. “Having that many women in the family has taught me how and how not to treat a lady. The experience has taught me what women expect in a man.”
In his spare time, Polite enjoys spending time with his teammates and boxing. Boxing helps him to relieve the stress related to practice. He often shadow boxes in front of his mirror to perfect his form. When reflecting on his Clemson career Polite says he has many good experiences to look back to. “The one that stands out most to me is the challenge of the new coaching staff, and the desire to improve myself for my senior year,” said Polite. “I will always remember the great friendships with my teammates as well.”
If Polite is able to achieve his goals of play and leadership on the field, Clemson fans and coaches will no doubt be pleased with the end results. With his excellent work ethic he is surely going to do big things for the Tigers in the final season of the century.
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