Top-ranked Clemson demolished ACC-foe Georgia Teach in Atlanta on Saturday. And as usual, the big lead gave the Tigers a chance to rotate young players in and out to experience game time reps.
The Tigers had issues in the second half with depth at the quarterback position as second string quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was unavailable with shoulder tightness and third-team guy Taisun Phommachanh broke a bone in his left hand late in the third quarter.
The unfortunate injuries provided an unseen opportunity for walk-on Hunter Helms to try his hand for a significant portion of the third and fourth quarters against the Yellow Jackets.
Helms was not expecting to play so much on Saturday, but felt the experience was a dream come true.
“It was great, and a dream come true, but I hate it for D.J. and Taisun,” the freshman said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I always try to stay ready as much as I can and prepare like a starter, that’s my mindset and I do it every day. I’m just blessed to be able to go out there and do my best.”
The Palmetto State-native completed 5-of-7 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta and certainly made a positive impression on his teammates and anybody who was watching the game.
Helms became just the third walk-on quarterback at Clemson to throw a touchdown pass since 1954. He became the first to throw two touchdowns while still as walk-on.
He also got a little playing time toward the end of the game against The Citadel.
“Things have really slowed down since I’ve gotten here because it was really fast,” Helms said. “Now, it has slowed down and I still have a lot to learn so I’m taking it day-by-day and trying to learn as much as I can from my teammates.”
Helms could get more action on Saturday as Clemson hosts a struggling Syracuse team at noon at Memorial Stadium.