To close out the 2016 calendar year, The Clemson Insider is taking a look back with a four-part “16 for ‘16” series. This series will feature groups of four “bests” in four categories for Clemson athletics: wins, highlights, performances, and unsung heroes. In part two, we identify the four best highlights of the year…
April 5, Baseball: Seth Beer hits a moon shot in Athens
If you were at the University of Georgia to witness Beer’s home run—as I was—then you know what I’m about to say is true. Later in life, it will be the kind of play that becomes a larger-than-life fish story—except there won’t need to be much embellishment.
Beer’s mammoth homer in the eighth inning off of Blake Cairnes left the ballpark in almost no time at all. It soared over the scoreboard in right field, beyond the trees that loom beyond the wall, and as it reached the tree line, the ball was still climbing. My seat in the radio booth gave me a direct line of sight to track the ball, and it literally disappeared into the night.
Did it reach the apartment complex past the trees? Did it go past that into the parking lot? Did it get stuck in a tree? Did it fly four counties away? We may never know. But Monte Lee says it’s the hardest-hit ball he’s ever seen, and I’ll take his word for it. Oh, and the home run tied the game at 6, enabling Clemson to win it with a five-run ninth inning.
May 25, Men’s Basketball: Blossomgame announces his return
This isn’t exactly a highlight in the classical sense, but Blossomgame’s decision to come back for his senior season could end up being one of the defining moments of the Brad Brownell era at Clemson. In the Tigers’ first 12 games this season, Blossomgame has been the leading scorer eight times. It’s fair to question what the expectations might be for the team if he opted to remain in the NBA Draft.
Heading into the announcement, no one really knew what to expect. Even Brownell didn’t know for sure until earlier that morning. I figured he was going to stay in the draft after a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine. Blossomgame’s announcement provided an offseason twist where there generally isn’t one. It gave Clemson a shot-in-the-arm and created a buzz around the program for the first time in a few years.
October 1, Football: Artavis Scott sets up a pivotal score against Louisville
In a game that featured several impressive plays by both teams, perhaps the most impactful—and surprising—was Scott’s lengthy kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter. He set the Tigers up with great field position that led to a Deshaun Watson touchdown pass to Mike Williams to pull Clemson within two points at 36-34 with more than seven minutes remaining.
What made Scott’s return even more meaningful were the special teams struggles the Tigers had throughout the game. Scott came in to return kicks as a potential spark, and his 77-yard kick return delivered. As he weaved in and out of Louisville defenders, the whole mood inside of Memorial Stadium changed. Clemson never gave up momentum in the game from that point forward.
November 26, Football: Williams’ piggyback ride begins Gamecock slaughter
It is perhaps one of the most memorable pictures of the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry. It has now been parodied in the style of the popular “Footprints” frame. If there is one play that most embodies the 56-7 thrashing the Tigers administered to the Gamecocks this season, this is it.
With Clemson already leading 7-0 in the first quarter, Williams caught Watson’s slant with seven yards still to go before reaching the end zone. Jamarcus King attempted to tackle Williams by grabbing him from behind, but Williams turned toward the end zone. He carried King the remaining seven yards on his back, like a father wrestling playfully with his child. It was one of three Williams touchdowns in his final matchup with the Gamecocks, but I’d guess this was his favorite.