Will Swinney grew up in the shadow of Death Valley and has been around Clemson his entire life but on Friday he accomplished something he never really thought about.
The son of Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney has lived in Clemson since his dad joined former coach Tommy Bowden’s staff as a wide receiver’s coach in 2003 when Will was five years old.
Swinney’s childhood dreams of being a Tigers made it even more special when he walked across the stage as a graduate on Friday afternoon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
“It means even extra and definitely more because I always grew up dreaming about going to Clemson,” Swinney told The Clemson Insider. “It’s kind of funny because beforehand I never thought about graduating from Clemson, I just thought about being at Clemson.”
Swinney has taken time this past week to reflect on all of the great experiences and people he has met because of his time in the classroom.
Despite growing up minutes from campus and spending a ton of time in the athletic department Swinney still needed some help finding his way around campus in his first year from a former Clemson standout.
“I remember the first day of school I didn’t know how to get to my classes,” he said. “I think I was with A.J. Terrell and Leanthony Williams in the same class and they were relying on me. But then Hunter Renfrow came over on a moped and actually showed us how to get to class on our first day.”
While Will’s time as an undergraduate ended on Friday, he is set to continue his Clemson career as he pursues a master’s degree in business administration while taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a freshman Swinney solidified himself as the starting placeholder but wished he had an opportunity to develop more as a wide receiver. He has caught 28 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown as a Tiger. Now he looks to take advantage of the extra year to earn more snaps on offense.
“As a wide receiver I felt it would have been beneficial to redshirt that year and gave more time to work,” Swinney said. “I wasn’t quite ready and didn’t feel like a finished project. But now I get the best of both worlds, I got to play some freshman year and now I get the fifth year to feel like I truly put in everything I have.”
Will’s brother Drew is entering his junior season and looked to replace his big brother as the place holder this fall. But now Drew has an extra year to develop as a player and is also excited to play another season with Will.
“I definitely know he would love the opportunity to hold this year but he is excited that I am coming back for another year so he can play with me,” Will said. “He will definitely get his opportunity because he has improved a lot and he will get his time with an extra year.”
—Photo courtesy of Madison Williams
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