CLEMSON, SC — It was late January morning when Nick Eason got a phone call from one of his good friends in the coaching business.
His friend, another defensive line coach, had applied for a job at his alma mater, but he didn’t get the job.
“He called me and asked for encouragement,” Eason said after the Tigers’ fourth spring practice on Monday.
Eason told him to cheer up and not get down. It just wasn’t the right time.
It was something the former Clemson defensive lineman knew. From afar, while coaching in the NFL, Eason watched his Tigers win many football games and a few national championships.
He wanted to be the one to coach his alma mater to a national championship.
“But the time wasn’t right for me,” Eason said. “Maybe, who knows? Maybe the opportunity will come. You never know.”
That opportunity came 10 minutes later for Eason.
Eason did his job. He helped his friend feel better. So he hung up the phone.
“Literally, Dabo [Swinney] called me about ten minutes later,” said Eason, who was coaching the defensive line at Auburn at the time. “Like, out of nowhere. It scared me. I almost didn’t answer my phone. I really didn’t think he was calling me to offer me the job.
But as everyone knows, that’s exactly what Swinney was doing. He offered Eason the opportunity to come and coach at Clemson, where he was an All-ACC team captain and defensive end as a player from 1999-2002.
Swinney wanted Eason to return to his alma mater and train his defensive tackles and be his running play coordinator.
Eason was officially hired on Jan. 7, 2022, to replace Todd Bates, who left Clemson to join Brent Venables’ staff in Oklahoma.
“Being here is just a blessing,” Eason said. “I really feel like God really ordained my steps to be here twenty years later. So I’m just excited and very humbled for the experience. I haven’t even met all the people that I know who are still there because everything has been so overwhelming.
“It really is a blessing.”