The national narrative surrounding college athletics would lead you to believe being a student-athlete is a burden to everyone involved.
Cοllege football is always evolving and the Power 5 and NCAA have taken significant steps in recent years to amplify the voice of student-athletes and improve access to opportunities for revenue in the ongoing name, image and likeness conversation.
Clemson holder and wide receiver Will Swinney believes there is always room for improvement behind the scenes in college athletics. But above all else he relishes the opportunity to play at Clemson.
“The opportunity to live out my dream and play for Clemson is not something I take for granted and I greatly appreciate all the people who have made that possible and donated to us,” Swinney said.
The son of Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney started his time at Clemson as a walk-on who had to earn his spot as a scholarship athlete in the program. The senior has caught 24 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown in his time in orange and has started since freshman year as the team’s holder.
Will Swinney also recently qualified as a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the Academic Heisman. He has participated in the program as a son, walk-on and now a scholarship player and raved about how grateful he is to Clemson and the fans who donate to the program through IPTAY, the athletic department’s fundraising organization.
“I just want to say how blessed I am to even play at a school like Clemson University and to be a part of this,” Swinney said. “I think a lot of times, in today’s cultural, its seems to some fans that there are a lot of players, due to certain comments, it comes across that they don’t really appreciate the opportunity that has been given. I just want to say that I speak for me and a lot of guys in this locker room, I am so thankful to the fans of Clemson University and the donors and the people that support us through IPTAY. It is amazing.
“Yeah, it is hard work being a student-athlete and that is something that is important for fans to realize, too. There are millions of different pressures that come with it and I think there are ways in which the NCAA could improve. But, I think, it is important to recognize and to let people know that me, Will Swinney the student-athlete, is so appreciative of the opportunity at Clemson University. I’ve been here as a walk-on, a scholarship guy and I have seen both sides of it.”
Swinney says it is a big jump going from a walk-on to a scholarship player, especially when it comes to getting text books and the other benefits that come with.
“Even as a walk-on, you still get access to all the academic services, the weight room and the food,” he said. “That is probably one of the biggest things for me. I’m ruined after the year because whenever I go to a restaurant, ‘Wait, I have to decide between chicken or steak.’ At the facility, I get chicken, steak, shrimp and you just load up. The meals we get our unbelievable.
“I know none of that is possible without people who have donated to this program and really support us and the student athletes.”
Swinney and top-ranked Clemson will host No. 7 Miami on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Clemson. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Another championship season is underway for the Tigers. It’s time to gear up for another year of Clemson football.
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