August 6, 2009

Caroline's Tiger Pause - It's Spiller's Time

On February 1st, 2006 I emitted the first of what would be thousands of cheers for CJ Spiller. I scheduled my day off from work the day of his press conference, and I was driving along a rode in Walhalla listening on 104.9. I pulled over and was talking to my dad on my cell phone, and then we both quieted and listened to his press conference. After saying a litany of great things about the University of Florida, CJ Spiller said the words “I will be going to Clemson in the fall”. I was positively shrieking and doing a car dance as plenty of normal people in downtown Walhalla wondered what could be wrong with me. Clemson football changed that day, and as we calmed down my dad said words that were so true-“enjoy every minute of him with a Clemson jersey on, he is one in a million and we won’t see the likes of him again any time soon”.

Then on January 15th 2009 I shrieked again after hearing CJ Spiller say that he would be staying at Clemson for his senior season. He chose being a Clemson Tiger and finishing his degree over a 1st round draft grade for the NFL and the wishes of his mother. I never dreamed he would stay at Clemson for four years-and I am going to thoroughly enjoy his senior season. There are a million and one reasons that I am excited about the 2009 Tigers, but the number one reason is watching CJ Spiller’s senior season. This is his first season as a feature back and not sharing carries with our beloved James Davis (who by the way has had a great start at the Cleveland Brown’s camp). Spiller is an almost universal top 5 selection for the Heisman Trophy, and is also Mel Kiper’s and Phil Steele’s pick to be the first running back taken in the NFL draft this year. I am going enjoy every second of watching #28 in Death Valley; watching the human highlight reel shatter even more records. I am going to love watching Lightning strike in the Valley over and over again.

Spiller needs only 921 all purpose yards to become the ACC leader in that category. A healthy CJ should shatter that number. He is a record setter at running back, receiver, and kick returner, and has even thrown a touch down pass. Tyler Grisham caught it in the 2008 Virginia game, and it was a beauty. He is Clemson’s leader already in all purpose yardage with 4, 908 yards so far. He has the school record with 12 touchdowns over 50 yards, 6 over 80. His freshman season he tied the record for career +50 yard scores. He only needs 83 yards to reach 1000 receiving yards in a career, and he can become the first Tiger ever to have at least 2000 yards rushing, 1000 yards receiving, and 1000 kick return yards. He has accounted for TD’s in 4 different ways. Lightning has averaged 6.0 yards per carry over his career-that is more than half of a first down per carry! He has averaged 8.53 yards per attempt in all purpose yardage.

CJ Spiller’s numbers are phenomenal, but they pale in comparison to CJ the man. In addition to being able to change the outcome of a game in a matter of seconds, he has been a great ambassador for the University. He is a man of great faith and character, a wonderful father, and a terrific student. He was the first football player since Kyle Young to be named Academic All ACC. Let’s face it, this guy does not need a college degree-he is going to be a millionaire in less than a year’s time. But he has always taken his studies and his position as a role model very seriously. He has been an exemplary student athlete at Clemson and a terrific team leader. And this is his team-he is the face of the 2009 Clemson Tigers. And that is what matters to him. He has been an unselfish player his entire career at Clemson. Both he and James were more than capable of being feature backs, and they would have had even more awe inspiring numbers and records if that had ever been the case, but they always put the needs of the team first. That is a hard thing to do when you are a superstar. I can not imagine how difficult it was to turn down millions of dollars and a life long dream when CJ decided that first round grade or not he was staying at Clemson. We have so much amazing talent at Clemson, and several very talented seniors such as Jacoby Ford and Ricky Sapp that are already among my favorite Tigers of all time. But what I am most excited about this season is watching CJ for the first time as the feature running back at Clemson.

For the first time CJ is going to have a coach that is committed to putting the ball in his hands. Dabo has been pretty clear that the coaching staff is thinking of every which way CJ can touch the ball. I have to admit that few things irritated me more than losing a game and finding out that CJ had only touched the ball 6 times. The fact is if you give him enough touches Lightning is going to strike. Look at all that CJ accomplished sharing carries and having limited touches. Spiller’s numbers become all the more impressive when you factor in that he has only averaged 10 rushes per game in his career, 2.3 reception attempts-he has only averaged touching the ball 12 times a game in his entire career at Clemson. Talk about underutilized! I cannot wait to see what happens when CJ touches the ball 18 to 20 times a game.

If you want to get really excited about the football season this year I encourage you to go over to YouTube and look at the many highlight videos of #28. Remind yourself of the many awe inspiring plays he has already had as a Clemson Tiger. And then think of the fact that for the first time this is really his team, this is his time, and in his own words he has a lot left to accomplish at Clemson. That, more than anything else, has me incredibly excited and very confident about our 2009 Tigers.

So Clemson Girls, what has you most excited about our ’09 Tigers?

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Jessica Stevens said...

I am so EXCITED!!!!! Only a month to go!!!! i got married last year and im really excited to share this football season with my husband!! We love clemson!! GO TIGERS!!

Erin said...

Great article, Caroline! Can't wait to see him with the ball!


TOPolk said...

I'm not a girl, but I am a Clemson guy, so I think I'm good. :-)

For our sake, I sure hope you're right. He needs to be on from day 1, because Lord knows what talent is or isn't hidden on our squad. It should definitely be an interesting football season...


carolineb said...

We love guys coming on over! I think there has never been a season with more question marks than this one. We have a ton of talent, but a brand new coaching staff, new qb (although I think it will be an upgrade-there is so much raw talent there), not to mention a bunch of new receivers. I actually feel pretty great about Defense even though we are a little thin at line backer, but offense has a lot of questions and I think as Spiller goes the season goes. I have to say though, in many ways this season is all the more exciting simply because we just don't really know what to expect.

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