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Position Switch Pays Off For Theo Mougros

Oct. 9, 2000

By Samantha Carruth Clemson Sports InformationThe NC State Game Program – October 7, 2000

Theo Mougros grew up as a troublemaker and the class clown who never wanted to follow the rules. Mougros fondly remembers the principal calling the secretary into the office so he could receive a paddling. He had no goals set in life, until ninth grade when he was introduced to the game of football.

“I didn’t think about playing football until my freshman year of high school when my brother was playing ball. He influenced me to begin playing and steered me on the right path, Mougros said. “I buckled down and became aware of the things I could achieve with football.” After getting on track, Mougros was recruited as a defensive lineman by the Clemson coaches.

“When the opportunity came knocking, I became very interested,” said the starting offensive guard from Tarpon Springs, FL. “When I visited the campus, I knew Clemson was where I wanted to go because it felt like home.”

Mougros red-shirted his freshman year and then played sparingly on both sides of the ball in 1997 and 1998. He actually played on offense and defense against Wake Forest in 1997 and versus Furman in 1998.

Then in the spring of 1999, he impressed coach Tommy Bowden with his quickness and abilty to pick up the up-tempo offense, and found a home on the offensive line.

“I am the type of person that likes change because it motivates me. I wanted to do what was best for the team and what was best for me,” said Mougros, who is one of the more versatile players on the team having played fullback, defensive tackle and now offensive line.

Mougros stepped up to the challenge and was a big reason the Tigers averaged more than 400 yards per game, third best in Clemson history. His strong work ethic and motivation pushed him to be successful and a starter in 11 of the team’s 12 games.

During the Mississippi State game in the Peach Bowl, Mougros suffered a torn ACL after playing 83 snaps. He was discouraged, but kept his head high.

“It was very frustrating and still haunts me. The past seven months have been tough, especially mentally.”

Thoughts of not being able to play this year crossed Mougros’ mind. He had prepared himself in case he didn’t make it back. Mougros, who graduated in three in a half years with an undergraduate degree in marketing, began thinking about his future.

With Mougros’ competitive nature and strong work ethic, he prepared himself for the 2000 season. He missed all of spring practice, and had not taken a hit in seven months.

“Going into camp you have to get your mind mentally prepared. I was looking forward to it because they say if your knee is going to blow, then it will go with the first hit. I wanted to get hit and get it out of my mind.”

Mougros always believed if he wasn’t full speed or not as up to speed as the previous season, then he didn’t need to be on the football field. He proved that he was up to speed during the first game of the season and also that he was mentally tough enough to be on the field. Since becoming a starter number 60 has developed into a team leader always trying to set a standard and precedence for the younger players.

“If you do something wrong it will wear off on them,” he said. “It is like a disease, it is contagious. You have to lead the younger guys and let them know when they have did a good job.”

“Mougros has developed into a leader after only playing on the offensive line for a year. He is an excellent worker and a lot of that has shown up with the way he plays and produces on the football field,” said offensive line coach Ron West.

Since arriving in Tigertown, Mougros has gained many different experiences and memories, but the highlight of his Tiger career has been receiving his degree.

“Graduating has meant the most to me during my time here at Clemson. Football does not last forever.”

The son of Greek parents, Mougros speaks Greek as his first language. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education. He has proved that academics and football can both be managed with the right attitude after graduating in three and a half years.

“I wasn’t the smartest kid coming out of high school, but I knew I had a good work ethic. I didn’t want to be known as the stereotype jock so I took advance of the resources that were available to me,” he said.

Mougros believes that with the right work ethic, attitude and mind set a kid can do anything from playing football to graduating in three and a half years.

“I am not the biggest or strongest guy in the world, but with the proper attitude and mind set you can do anything.”

Football will always hold fond memories for Theo Mougros. He will not only remember the Florida State and South Carolina games, but he will remember how football changed his life and put him on the right path.