‘He teaches me how to work and grind’: Will Swin­ney carves out role for Clem­son

The State (Sunday) - - Clemson Football - BY LOU BEZJAK lbez­[email protected]­tate.com

Will Swin­ney knows the scru­tiny of play­ing for his fa­ther at a high-pro­file foot­ball pro­gram like Clem­son.

But the son of Dabo Swin­ney has made a name for him­self on the field with his work ethic and is re­spected by his team­mates. The sopho­more walk-on has carved a niche on spe­cial teams as the holder to kicker Greg Huegel for field goals and ex­tra points in ad­di­tion to be­ing a backup re­ceiver on the team.

“I have re­ally en­joyed get­ting to know him. He is a pretty good foot­ball player, too,” Clem­son h-back Grant Wil­liams said. “He is a pretty re­li­able re­ceiver and makes good plays in prac­tice. One day I’m sure he will get his shot to make plays in games, too.”

Said re­ceiver Amari Rodgers: “He is amaz­ing. He is a grinder. He pushes me and teaches me how to work and grind.”

Clem­son co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jeff Scott backed up Rodgers’ state­ments ear­lier this year, and there are some nights he has to pull him and Rodgers off the prac­tice fields so they can get to their study halls.

Swin­ney’s hard work be­hind the scenes was re­warded when he caught first col­lege touch­down pass in the 77-16 win over Louisville on Nov. 3.

This sea­son, Swin­ney has ap­peared in seven games as a re­ceiver and made seven catches for 30 yards. He had one catch for two yards in last week’s Cot­ton Bowl win over Notre Dame.

“We don’t have an as­ter­isk next to Will’s name be­cause of what his last name is,” Scott said in Novem­ber. “He’s re­spected on our team be­cause of the way that he goes about his busi­ness. He takes notes in meet­ings, and he works for his op­por­tu­ni­ties that he’s been given.”

“It is fun to be able to cheer for him when he gets out there. He is a close friend that I know he is go­ing to have my back,” re­ceiver Hunter Ren­frow said this week of Swin­ney. “We are to­gether ev­ery night. He sees the game a lot like I do. If we do this then this hap­pens, and so on.”

Ren­frow and Swin­ney are room­mates and have con­tin­ued their friend­ship that be­gan be­fore Swin­ney ar­rived on cam­pus.

Ren­frow said Swin­ney has a funny “over­all quirk­i­ness” and that side was on dis­play last week dur­ing Cot­ton Bowl me­dia day when he did a good imi­ta­tion of his fa­ther.

Swin­ney has a com­pet­i­tive streak and Ren­frow saw that first-hand this sum­mer when the two along with Dabo Swin­ney were at a swim­ming pool. The three were hav­ing a con­test to see who could hold their breath the long­est un­der­wa­ter.

“Will goes first and gets like 35 sec­onds and I go and get like 45,” Ren­frow re­calls. “Then coach Swin­ney goes and makes fun of Will, say­ing you can do bet­ter than that. Coach Swin­ney goes and gets like two min­utes then Will goes and gets to like two and half min­utes. Then coach Swin­ney goes and does like three min­utes.

“So just Will’s over­all com­pet­i­tive­ness and quirk­i­ness stand out. I’m glad to have him as friend and team­mate.”

GAVIN MCIN­TYRE gm­cin­[email protected]­tate.com

Clem­son’s wide re­ceiver Will Swin­ney (22) stretches dur­ing prac­tice Satur­day in­side CEFCU Sta­dium at San Jose State Uni­ver­sity. The Tigers are get­ting ready for the Col­lege Foot­ball Na­tional Championship Jan. 7 in nearby Santa Clara, Calif. This sea­son, Swin­ney, a sopho­more walk-on, has ap­peared in seven games as a re­ceiver and made seven catches for 30 yards.

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