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Five things to know about Clelin Ferrell

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The Washington Commanders continued the work towards upgrading their arsenal of pass-rushers by signing defensive end Clelin Ferrell away from the San Francisco 49ers. Here are five things to know about one of the team's newest defensive ends.

1. His family has deep ties to the military.

Ferrell learned some of the most fundamental aspects of football -- self-discipline, determination and hard work -- at an early age. His parents Cleavester and Faye Ferrell, both served in the military and made sure they instilled those qualities in Ferrell and his eight siblings.

"I'm blessed to come from a family that was willing to sacrifice their lives for our country to allow us to do the things that I love to do and we all love to do," **Ferrell said in 2021.**

Faye enlisted in the Army when she was 18 years old and fought in Desert Storm. Anyone who didn't know Faye, Ferrell said, would be surprised that she wanted to join the military, but there was "it was just something inside her that had driven her and attracted her to the military. I'm definitely thankful for her always."

Cleavester fought in the Vietnam War and was the head of Ferrell's family. He was "the ultimate role model," Ferrell said, partly because of how committed he was to his community. The values that his father stood for -- staying accountable and never making excuses -- showed Ferrell that he was "a true definition of what an American should want to be."

Cleavester died of cancer in 2021, but the lessons he taught Ferrell will stay with him forever. He made sure to pay his respects to his father by pointing to the sky when he got his first sack in the 2019 season opener against the Broncos.

"It was a special feeling, especially seeing that it was my first NFL game," Ferrell said. "He passed away when I was about to go into high school, so he never got to see me play high school ball, college, any of that. It was truly a special moment."

2. He faced adversity before he started his college career.

Ferrell was the fifth-ranked high school prospect in Virginia, receiving offers from more than two dozen schools. He ultimately committed to Clemson, marking one of the most important days in his playing career up to that point.

Three months later, Ferrell tore his ACL, forcing him to miss his entire senior season. **What followed was a grueling recovery process** that led to him standing on the sidelines as his team won a state championship. He still wasn't to be on the field when he arrived at Clemson, so he had to redshirt his freshman year.

"There were ups, and there were downs, and there were sometimes where I was confused," Ferrell said. "You have those doubts of 'Well, what if I get injured again?' or just when I was in camp last year, just sometimes I didn't feel like I was able to compete at the highest level with these guys."

Fortunately, Ferrell was back on the field for his sophomore season, and he didn't waste any time showing why the team was right to stick with him through his injury.

Excitement was in the air the Washington Commanders' incoming free agents made their first trips to the facility. Check out the top photos of their arrival.

3. He was a prolific athlete at Clemson.

Ferrell's injury left him with an abbreviated college career, but that didn't lessen his impact on the Tigers' program.

Ferrell time with Clemson was one of the most decorated for a defensive player in school history. He had 44 starts with the Tigers -- the most by any defensive end/outside linebacker in school history.

Ferrell made the most of his snaps on the field. He recorded 166 tackles, 27 sacks, 51 pressures, seven pass breakups and five forced fumbles. His sack total tied him with William "Refrigerator" Perry, who went on to have a 11-year NFL career with the Bears and Eagles.

Ferrell's final season at Clemson all but solidified his status as a first-round pick. He received the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the best defensive end in college football, for recording 11.5 sacks, 54 tackles and three forced fumbles. Those numbers led to him getting First Team All-American honors, becoming just the second player in school history to do so, and being named the ACC Defensive Player of the year.

"He's really worked for everything that he's gotten," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "He's very, very coachable and never satisfied."

4. He honors his father with a special sack celebration.

Defensive players like to show off when they get a sack, and Ferrell is no exception to that. The Commanders have seen unique celebrations over the years, from Ryan Kerrigan's RKO to Tim Settle's penguin jump. This year, Commanders fans will see Ferrell cast a line to pretend he's fishing.

"I grew up fishing, ever since I was a little kid," **Ferrell said.** "Brian Robinson, who was a defensive lineman for the (Minnesota) Vikings, I remember as a little kid I watched him. He had the long, flowy hair. He had some lettuce and a blacked out visor. The first time I saw him get a sack, he took out the fishing rod out, threw it and reeled it in, picked it up... I'm not going to lie, I stole that from him and added my own little twist to it."

"That just comes from growing up, I always fished with my Pops... He bought me a Captain America fishing rod. From that moment on, I was hooked on fishing. And my family fishes, so that's always been a big thing."

5. He wants to build something in Washington.

Ferrell grew up Richmond, Virginia, so he knows how devoted Washington's fanbase is to the team. He's also aware of how much the Commanders struggled in 2023, finishing the year with a 4-13 record.

Ferrell believes it's time to turn things around.

"The people here have been waiting a long time for somebody to come in here and do it right," Ferrell said.

Ferrell feels like he has plenty to offer to the Commanders' roster. He started a full season for the first time in his career last season, recording 28 tackles with 3.5 sacks and helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl.

Of course, the 49ers lost to the Chiefs, but coming one game short of winning a championship has inspired Ferrell to help build something special with his new team. Aside from being closer to his family, he sees the potential to do that in Washington.

"To be here and be in this type of environment, where everything just feels so new, it's really inspiring," Ferrell said.

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