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K.J. Henry and the Tigers ‘want to prove’ they belong in 2022

Caleb Browder, Contributor

Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry runs down the hill prior to the Tigers’ matchup with the Boston College Eagles in 2021. Henry recovered the game-sealing fumble from Boston College quarterback Dennis Grosel with 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Clemson kicks off its 2022 season on Monday, and according to K.J. Henry, the Tigers are back in the groove of what they’re known for: winning. 
Slated to start at one of the defensive end spots against Georgia Tech, Henry believes the Tigers have a different attitude for 2022 after losing “the appreciation of what it takes to win” last season.
Coming off a three-loss season, Henry acknowledged Wednesday that the Tigers didn’t live up to their expectations last year, but there needs to be more respect for the entire ACC. 
“We were in our own way,” Henry said. “There were a lot of good teams that we play every year that fed off of that. I think, as a league, we aren’t given the respect that we deserve. Finally, Clemson has a hiccup year, and everybody’s surprised that they are close games. We’ve been telling you all that that we’ve been playing good teams every year.”
Henry added that compared to 2021, this year’s team has re-evaluated its attitudes and are ready to live up to the standards Clemson football is held to. 
The Tigers seem to be set on growth throughout the fall, as Henry stated how he has noticed the team being more focused than this time last year.
Teamwork, dedication to positive team culture and appreciation of their coaches is what Henry said have made the team “more tight-knit” than in years past.
The fifth-year senior has won at the highest level since he first joined the Tigers in 2018, and with that experience comes his own confidence in the team. 
“We know what we’re capable of, and we’re ready to get back to that,” Henry said. “It’s going to start with this game. We’re only focused on this game and being the best version of ourselves. We’re excited to go play and excited to prove that we belong, and not only that we belong but that we’re one of the best (teams) in the country.” 
Obviously, Clemson’s goal is to defeat Georgia Tech in the opening game, but for Henry, it’s just as important to learn from the mistakes that will inevitably happen.
“The goal is to have game one be our worst game of the season, and we grow from there,” Henry said. 
Henry holds 10 career sacks, 4.5 of which he earned last season. In 2021 he also had 22 total tackles in four starts.
Henry and the Tigers will begin their 2022 season at 8 p.m. EDT on Monday, as they look to start off this season on a strong note.

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