By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — When he hears his name and touches Howard’s Rock one last time before making his final journey as part of college football’s “Most exciting 25 seconds,” Clemson center Dalton Freeman plans to let it all soak in.
In a matter of seconds, he is going to think about his visits to Clemson when he was a talented young recruit out of Pelion, S.C. He is going to think about his redshirt season when he wondered if he would ever get the chance to play in Death Valley. Then he will think about his first rush of adrenaline when he ran down the Hill for the first time in front of 80,000 fans.
For Dalton Freeman, the last five football seasons at Clemson will accumulate in those few seconds before he makes his last appearance at Clemson Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
“It is pretty humbling to sit back and think about it,” the senior said. “As a freshman, it seemed like time dragged by. The redshirt process was very grueling and it seemed like I would never make it to my senior year. But as soon as you start playing and as soon as you start having success as an individual and as a team, time has just flown by.”
But time should stand still of Freeman and the rest of the 12 seniors before they play archrival and 12th-ranked South Carolina Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
“I can’t even find the words on what that moment is going to be like,” senior linebacker Corico Wright said. “All I can tell you is that it is going to be electrifying. It is going to chaotic and it is going to be loud, very, very loud.
“It is going to be one of the best places to be to play a rivalry game in the country on Saturday night. We look forward to it as a team and as seniors we look forward to ending our careers here in the Valley and going against our rival. There is not a better time to do it than to do it against South Carolina.”
Should No. 9 Clemson (10-1) be able to beat South Carolina the Tigers will complete a perfect season at home for the second consecutive year, something that has never been done in the history of Clemson football.
Clemson has had consecutive unbeaten seasons at home, but never undefeated. The Tigers were 6-0 in 1981, 5-0-1 in 1982 and 6-0-1 in 1983. Overall, Clemson has recorded only seven perfect records at home, including last year’s 7-0 mark.
“I can’t think of a better way to end our careers as seniors than to play in Death Valley at night with an electric crowd against your rival,” Freeman said “I don’t think it gets any better than that, especially knowing what is at stake and the way they beat us the last three years.
“We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves and really move forward and put this program on the map.”
And that would give Freeman and the rest of the seniors one more thing to remember when they think back to their careers at Clemson.