Sept. 23, 1998
by Andy Linn
In a season of mysteries, such as who is going to win the Atlantic Coast Conference football title or who is going to emerge as the Heisman winner, maybe the biggest mystery is who is the team leader and stand-out on this season’s Clemson defensive line? Search no longer for that man is Donald Broomfield. Donald who?
Clemson has always been blessed with great defensive linemen. Over the years, Clemson’s defensive line positions have always been occupied by big name stars such as Chester McGlockton, William and Michael Dean Perry, Brentson Buckner, and Jeff Bryant. However, this season’s Tiger defensive line lacks the big name stars, but not leadership. As defensive line coach, Les Herrin, points out, “Donald has accepted the role as the leader and one who leads by example, not words.” Broomfield may not have the media attention as many of Clemson’s past defensive linemen who have gone on to professional careers, but his ability and leadership is second to none.
Broomfield came to Clemson from Olustee, FL where he played at Baker County High School. While in high school, he played tailback, wide receiver, and inside linebacker. He admits enjoying the opportunity to play both ways in high school, but his greatest love has always been defense. “I enjoyed playing both sides of the ball, but moreover, I enjoyed the defensive aspect of the game.” You might ask, “What was a defensive lineman doing playing tailback and wide receiver?”
What many Tiger fans do not know is that Broomfield came to Clemson as a 230 pound, linebacker prospect only to be converted to a defensive lineman early in his career. “It was a decision I made with the help of Coach Herrin’s persuasion.” Coach Herrin saw his potential and teased him about how he would make a great defensive lineman. So, he bulked-up during his first two years at Clemson and was moved to the defensive line.
Coming into his senior season, Broomfield was ranked sixth on the Tiger team with a bench press of 422 pounds. His 330 pound clean was ninth best on the Tiger team. Coach Herrin attributes Broomfield’s achievements to his dedication and desire to be the best player and person he can possibly be. However, what may be more remarkable than his work ethic is his patience.
Broomfield came to Clemson in 1994, but was red-shirted and went on to miss most of the 1995 spring practice because of a sinus problem that required surgery. He saw limited action in the 1995 and 1996 seasons while playing behind such stars as the Miami Dolphins’ Lorenzo Bromell, Denver Bronco Trevor Pryce, and Raymond White. In 1997, Broomfield played in all 12 games for the Tigers but did not start in any game. He earned 27 tackles in a reserve role, which ranks best among returning defensive linemen.
Now we come to the 1998 season, and four years later, Broomfield has earned his chance to start every weekend for the Tigers. His unbelievable patience and dedication to Coach Herrin’s defensive philosophy has also earned him the role of defensive leader up front. “It’s a role I have asked Donald to take on and one that he feels comfortable with.”
The role of leader is not only a role Coach Herrin expects Donald Broomfield to take on, but it is also a role that Broomfield expects of himself. “I set goals for myself to just basically be a leader on the defensive front. I have to lead the others because I feel like I’m the older guy on the line and I want to lead them by what I do and not what I say.”
As any great leader does, Broomfield puts his personal goals aside and stresses the team goals that he and the defensive line have set for the 1998 season. Broomfield and his other teammates on the defensive line want to be the best defense in the nation. “We want to shut other teams out and be as intimidating on defense as possible. If we do our part on the defensive side of the ball we will win games.”
Broomfield is one of five active players who has played in three bowl games prior to the 1998 season, and he would like nothing more than to participate in a fourth bowl game.
As memorable as his experiences in big games have been, nothing compares to the feeling of standing at the top of “The Hill” before each game in the Valley. “I heard people talk about the feeling you get before you run down The Hill, but I never thought it would be the way people talked about it. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world, to know that all those people are waiting for you to come down and put on a show.”
The memories will always be cherished, but there is one game that Broomfield says has provided a confidence booster for the Tigers football team coming into this season. That game was the Florida State game last season that was played in the Valley. For Broomfield and the rest of the Tigers, that game showed them that they could compete in big games with the elite teams in the nation. As he says, “It was probably one of the most exciting games I have ever played in. Just to see the team play and know that we can play in big games let me know that we can hang with the better teams of the nation.”
Broomfield knows that this is his season to shine and give 100 percent everyday in order to prepare himself for the chance to fulfill his ultimate goal: playing for an NFL team in 1999. “I think I have the tools and ability to do it (play for an NFL team), and now it is all a matter of whether or not I go out there and do all I can,” says Broomfield. There is no denying that Broomfield plays for one of the top NFL player producing defenses in the nation. Combine that with his work ethic and desire to prolong his football career, there is little standing in the way of preventing Broomfield from getting his chance to play on Sundays.
If for some reason an NFL career is not in the future for Broomfield, he will always have his education to fall back on. Broomfield is a marketing major at Clemson and he contains all the characteristics of a successful marketer. His confidence, work ethic, ability to lead by example, and love for talking to people have all contributed to his success in the classroom. He chose marketing because of the opportunity to become a sports marketer. As Broomfield says, “I like to talk to people and be persuasive. Furthermore, I like the chance that I have to become a sports marketer.” Broomfield, as with many successful people, contributes his successful life style to the influence his parents have had on him.
“I can’t say enough about my mom and dad being there for me.” They have instilled in him the importance of leadership and doing well in the classroom. Broomfield has a strong relationship with his parents, and their guidance has resulted in a leader and someone who is both mentally and physically healthy. “They taught me to do my best and let things fall into place.” The advice his parents have given him is a contributing factor to the patience he has displayed over the last four years at Clemson.
At the conclusion of this season, Donald Broomfield will no longer be a mystery to Tiger football fans, but a defensive lineman that all Tiger fans will associate with the leaders of the past.
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