October 9, 1998
CLEMSON, S.C. — Late in the fourth quarter, Clemson is driving and in control of the line of scrimmage. Muscle meets mass and the opponent is driven backwards. The defense is worn out. The Tiger back plows through the open hole and in for six. Clemson takes a commanding 11 point lead on its way to victory. This is the story of Clemson’s 11-play, 94-yard drive to seal Clemson’s victory at Maryland in 1997, in which all 94 yards on the ground and 83 came by Raymond Priester. This is football at its finest according to Tiger offensive tackle Holland Postell.
Postell, 6′-6” and 293 pounds, is the senior statesman of the Clemson offensive line in ’98. He has started 24 straight games at tackle, more than any other Tiger, and his 1,598 career snaps entering this season is also a team-best. But when Postell talks about leadership, he states that he’s not the vocal kind of leader, rather one of leading by example.
“I don’t try to be a coach on the field,” states Postell. “That’s not me. It’s a role you naturally have or don’t have. But being out there every snap giving it my all is how I hope I can show others how it’s done. I’ve been in almost every situation, including the big wins and losing terribly. You don’t know how to react until you’ve been in those situations.
“When I came to Clemson as a freshman, I admit, I was pretty confident in my abilities. I found out quick what it was like when I got my behind ran all over. It was frustrating, but it has paid off now. There are some people who would accept not being good enough to play on this level and others who are willing to work their tails off. I chose the latter. I hated to sit in my dorm as a true freshman and watch my teammates play on the road. That ate me alive, but at the same time motivated me.”
Some of the highlights of Postell’s first three seasons include the convincing 47-21 win over arch-rival South Carolina in Columbia in ’97. But more than highlights is his theme of consistency. Postell led the team in snaps in ’97 with 796. His solid run-blocking and pass protection also enabled Nealon Greene, Tony Horne, and Raymond Priester to set 57 school records in their careers.
“Holland came into the program as one of the most highly recruited players we’ve signed,” says Head Coach Tommy West, who recruited Postell in his first class of signees. “He’s been everything we thought he’d be. He’s been a starter for the past two seasons, he’s an All-ACC player, and an All-American candidate. Holland’s been the anchor on the line for us for a long time.”
But Postell almost never made it to Tigertown in the first place. Thanks to some irony and luck, he did. “I grew up following Clemson, but I wouldn’t say I was a die-hard fan. So my options were open when I started to get recruited in high school. Coach (Les) Herrin recruited me for Clemson, Coach (Ellis) Johnson recruited me for Alabama, and Coach (Miles) Aldridge recruited me for South Carolina. They all ended up at Clemson during my senior year, so the decision was much easier.”
“From the beginning, Coach West was honest and up front with me. He told me that I had a chance to play early if I worked at it. He was the only coach who was that straightforward with me and I respected that.”
Postell attended Summerville High School in the lowcountry, where he was coached by legendary coach John McCissick, who just happens to have more career wins than any other in the history of high school football. Postell is one of just two players in the school’s history to start for four straight seasons, quite an accomplishment for a player at a school that has won countless state championships. “Playing for Coach McCissick gave me an opportunity to grow up,” recalls Postell. “We were at a different level at Summerville as far as the weight room and coaching. Coach McCissick also had great assistant coaches. I was very fortunate to have the chance to play for one of the all-time great coaches. I’ll always admire him!”
Even though he was one of the top lineman in the country, he also excelled in other sports. Postell played basketball for three seasons, and threw the shot and discus. His strength was evident when he won the state in the discus in his senior season.
Postell credits his parents for their undying support and enthusiasm towards his career. “My mom (Pat) and dad (Marvin) have always been there to watch me play, even here at Clemson,” says Postell. “They drive to all the road games and have only missed two games throughout my high school and college career. I couldn’t ask for better parents!”
“My dad is definitely the source of my work habits. He is also where I got my height. He is 6′-7” and works as a conductor for CSX Railroad. He would work seven days a week and never take a day off to make ends meet.”
“There was a time in seventh grade when I made the junior varsity football team, which was unheard of for my age in Summerville. I wanted to quit so bad because there were sophomores on the team who wanted me to quit. But my mom told me to stay with it until the season started, then see what happened. I can never thank her enough for guiding me through that time.”
“I can also remember my brother, Marty, who is 29, and I playing football in the yard. He was a role model for me, being that he was seven years older me. He wasn’t nearly as big as me, but he did play football, so I wanted to do what he did.”
“I also want to thank one of my best friends in college, Chris Robbins, who played here a few years ago. We’ve had two different careers, but he’s one of those people you can tell anything to. Leslie King, my girlfriend, is very special to me as well.”
Now that Postell has endured the trials and tribulations of a college football career, he is ready for the challenges ahead, including a possible professional football career. “All I can do is put myself in the best position to make it. If I don’t get there, then it wasn’t meant to be. I won’t sit around and think about it forever. I plan to graduate in the spring with a sports management degree. So I definitely want to stay around sports. I got a lot of experience when I interned in the athletic department this past summer. I could see myself being a manager of a sports facility or working in promotions.”
No matter what Postell does in the future, thanks to his fourth quarter attitude, there is no doubt he will reach his goals.
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