Usually when Dabo Swinney runs down the hill and into Death Valley, he stops at midfield and high-fives a lot of his players as they run by him.
But Saturday’s game against Kent State was a little different. For the first time, he got to watch his oldest son, Will, a walk-on wide receiver, run down the hill as a Clemson Tiger for the first time. But what made it even better was the fact Will took the time to come over to his dad and give his father a small embrace before continuing to the sideline.
It was a special moment for both the dad and the son.
“That was special,” Swinney said during his Sunday teleconference with the media. “I told him I appreciated him giving me two seconds there to be dad before he just ran on by me. That was really neat. That was really, really neat.
“It has been a dream of his to come to school here and run down that hill. To kind of have that moment was pretty special. I’m proud of him.”
Papa Swinney was even prouder a little bit later when Will went into the game to hold the football for the point after C.J. Fuller’s 26-yard yard touchdown in the first quarter, No. 5 Clemson’s first score of the season. In the fourth quarter, Will entered the game as a wide receiver.
That made him the first head coach’s son to enter a game for Clemson since Jimmy Howard, the son of legendary head coach Frank Howard, did so in 1963.
Is Lawrence injured? Several times in Saturday’s 56-3 win over Kent State, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was limping. The sophomore had a screw put into one of his toe’s falling spring drills back in April and it appeared it was aggravating him during the game.
Swinney said Lawrence is playing through the pain and he is going to be okay.
“He is just playing through it. He is fine. He was our trench award winner,” the Clemson coach said. “He played well inside. He got a little high on a couple of plays. He did a nice job. Sometimes those guys want to do too much. They all want to make the play.
“Sometimes you just make the play by playing your gap. He did a good job. He has practiced well. It is just part of him coming back.”
Lawrence finished Saturday’s game with four tackles.
Smith banged up. Swinney reported free safety Van Smith sprained his knee in the first half on Saturday, but he said the junior looked better today and they are hopeful he will be okay.
Smith did not play in the second half of the Kent State game.
Players of the game. Swinney said linebacker Kendall Joseph and defensive end Austin Bryant were the defensive players of the game, while quarterback Kelly Bryant was the offensive player of the game. Kicker Greg Huegel was the special teams player of the game.