Clem­son pa­rade cel­e­brates ‘best team ever’

The Sun News (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY MATT CON­NOLLY mcon­[email protected]­

Clem­son’s spe­cial se­nior class re­ceived one fi­nal send­off Satur­day af­ter­noon as the Tigers cel­e­brated their sec­ond na­tional ti­tle in three years with a pa­rade and sta­dium cel­e­bra­tion.

Ap­prox­i­mately 50,000 fans were on hand for the spe­cial oc­ca­sion. The gates to Me­mo­rial Sta­dium opened at 7 a.m. and fans piled into the stands while a re­play of the na­tional ti­tle game played on the video board. A pa­rade started in down­town Clem­son and fin­ished at the top of the hill at Death Val­ley as the streets were slammed with cheer­ing fans who watched as Dabo Swin­ney and other mem­bers of Clem­son’s coach­ing staff rode by atop cars.

Clem­son’s six per­ma­nent cap­tains — Chris­tian Wilkins, Hunter Ren­frow, Ken­dall Joseph, Mitch Hy­att, Clelin Fer­rell and Adam Choice — were paired up and also rode atop cars, while the rest of the team and sup­port staff rode atop floats. Wilkins sat be­side Ren­frow with a cigar in his mouth as Clem­son play­ers, coaches and sup­port staff soaked in the mo­ment.

“It was amaz­ing. The route was awe­some com­ing down the hill and look­ing at the sta­dium. It’s cold. It’s early. And peo­ple just hav­ing a blast. It’s just so cool to be able to cel­e­brate with our fans, be­cause not ev­ery­body can go out to Cal­i­for­nia. It’s a long way to go,” Swin­ney said. “So for ev­ery­body to kind of have a chance to get here and be a part of it, and then for our team to be able ex­pe­ri­ence the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of our fans is just spe­cial. It’s what it’s all about.”

The day was rem­i­nis­cent of Clem­son’s na­tional ti­tle cel­e­bra­tion fol­low­ing the 2016 sea­son in a

lot of ways.

There once again was a pa­rade and once again tens of thou­sands of peo­ple greeted the Tigers at Death Val­ley.

Mem­bers of Clem­son’s ath­letic depart­ment, Swin­ney and play­ers spoke be­fore the Tigers bas­ket­ball team hosted Vir­ginia, just as it did two years ago.

“This is kind of what we do on a Jan­uary Satur­day in Clem­son, South Carolina,” Tigers Di­rec­tor of Ath­let­ics Dan Radakovich said.

The one big dif­fer­ence be­tween the 2018 cel­e­bra­tion as op­posed to the 2016 cel­e­bra­tion was that this time the Tigers were cel­e­brat­ing a per­fect 15-0 sea­son.

The lead­ers of Clem­son’s team set a goal be­fore the sea­son to be the best team in school his­tory. After the Tigers be­came the first team in mod­ern Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion his­tory to go 15-0, Swin­ney be­lieve the Tigers ac­com­plished their goal.

“The 2018 team is the best ever. Drop the mic, the best ever. And they have set a stan­dard for all fu­ture teams,” Swin­ney said.

While Swin­ney is thrilled about what Clem­son ac­com­plished in 2018, he is also ex­cited for what lies ahead. The 2019 spring game will be held April 6, and Swin­ney is al­ready plan­ning out next year’s jour­ney.

“I am so happy that we get a chance to have this joy­ful mo­ment with you,” Swin­ney said to the crowd. “But un­der­stand, the best is yet to come.”

PHO­TOS BY GAVIN MCIN­TYRE gm­cin­[email protected]­

Clem­son Tigers de­fen­sive line­man Chris­tian Wilkins waves to the crowd with wide re­ceiver Hunter Ren­frow dur­ing Satur­day’s pa­rade cel­e­brat­ing their win in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off Na­tional Cham­pi­onship.

Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney and his fam­ily wave to fans dur­ing Satur­day’s pa­rade to cel­e­brate their ti­tle.

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