Note: The following appears in the Louisville football gameday program.
In the dynamic world of college football, where players are transferring to new programs at a growing rate, Justin Mascoll has stayed true to his values and trusted the culture and coaches at Clemson.
“Blessing” is the word that Mascoll used to describe his time at Clemson. Learning from standouts like Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross have shaped Mascoll into the player he is today.
“Those are like my brothers to this day. In this game and on this team, there are so many guys who you can learn from on and off the field.”
Mascoll has learned patience during his time at Clemson and to control only what is in his grasp.
Growing up in Snellville, Ga., Mascoll was a heavily sought-after recruit. After his career at South Gwinnett High School, Mascoll received over 20 offers from high-profile schools as a four-star recruit and the No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2018. Mascoll soon found his calling in Tigertown.
“The family atmosphere stood out to me during the recruiting process. Every other school had the same vibe, but Clemson was different.”
Mascoll started playing football at age seven. His older brother was his inspiration to start playing the game.
“My older brother is the main reason why I started playing football. After watching him play, I would put on shoulder pads and a helmet and run around the house trying to tackle him…little brother stuff. After that, I really fell in love with football.”
Little did Mascoll know football was going to be his ticket to big-time college athletics.
After watching his older brother pursue his dreams and play football at App State, Mascoll wanted to see if he could take it to the next level and play football in a Power Five Conference. When Mascoll visited Clemson, he knew it was the place for him.
“Clemson was one of my first offers. I really came here because of the family feel. The coaches are really good at holding the guys accountable. It’s more than just football…they try to holistically grow you as a man.”
Mascoll started his journey at Clemson around the same time as fellow defensive ends K.J. Henry, Xavier Thomas and Myles Murphy.
“We’ve grown so much together, and football has brought us so much closer.”
Mascoll and the other defensive ends have developed immensely since their freshman year.
“It’s cool to see K.J., Xavier and Myles grow. They are such great players. We all learn from each other.”
The coaching staff has great trust and respect for Mascoll as a defensive end. With the transition to the new defensive coordinators this season, Mascoll had nothing but great things to say about Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn.
“Those are coaches who we’ve known as a team and we are comfortable with.”
Many outsiders feared that changes on the defensive coaching staff would disrupt the chemistry of the team, but that was not the case.
“It was a great transition. They understand us as players.”
During his five years at Clemson, Mascoll has made many memories. With highlights from the 2018 (season) national championship game and other victorious bowl contests, Mascoll’s favorite memory came on Dec. 29, 2021 at the Cheez-It Bowl versus Iowa State.
“With everything that we had been through last season, we never had a season like that. The way we came together in the locker room after the game was special. We had a new appreciation…we felt like we had made it to the mountaintop. We accomplished a lot.”
Mascoll acquired a new appreciation for winning that has carried over.
“This year, we have appreciated winning a lot more. We go hard and enjoy the moments.”
His on-field nickname, “Dr. Strange,” has an ambiguous origin.
“They call me ‘Dr. Strange.’ I don’t know where it came from…know that things get a little strange around here. I’m taking on that role.”
Mascoll has taken on a new role on the defense and has carved out his role on the team.
Things have not always been easy for Mascoll and his family. Before moving to Georgia at the age of four, he and his family spent his early years in Brooklyn, N.Y. They went through many hardships before making the move to the South.
“Living in New York was tough…my family went through hard times.”
His parents did their best to make the most out of their situation. Through it all, he admired his family’s work ethic and attitude despite their hardships.
“Watching my parents and older brother work set an example for me. I grew up in a family of hard workers, and that trait was passed on to me.”
This hard-working mentality has followed him to Clemson. Mascoll is not a vocal leader on the field. Instead, he serves as a role model to the younger players on the team.
“I try to lead by example…I’m not the most boisterous person. On days where we don’t feel great, I try to bring that energy and effort.”
Mascoll loves leading the underclassmen on the team and knows precisely what they have been through, emphasizing to soak up every second of their Clemson journey.