The final No. 28

CLEMSON - The number of former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller was retired at halftime of Saturday's 31-7 win over Maryland at Memorial Stadium.

He became the third Clemson football player to have his number retired, joining Steve Fuller (No. 4) and Banks McFadden (No. 66).

"It's a great honor. It's a humbling experience," Spiller told reporters in the West End Zone, before the game. "I'm very grateful to be here, not just for this, but just to get back in Clemson.

"It feels good. It feels like I've been away from home for a long time. It just feels good to come back home and see all the support and love that you have here."

The Buffalo Bills' No. 21 was named ACC Player of the Year last year when he set an ACC Record for all-purpose yards. Spiller finished sixth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, which tied for the highest finish by a Clemson player.

Before the game, he led the team on the Tiger Walk and the run down the hill past Howard's Rock.

After No. 28 was retired at halftime, Spiller presented a $100,000 check for the ‘One Clemson Fund' to Clemson president James Barker and athletic director Terry Don Phillips.

"I am proud to be a Clemson graduate," Spiller said. "This is my school and I am very appreciative of the positive effect Clemson has had on my life. I want to give back and say thanks."

Here's an edited transcript of the pre-game interview:

As an NFL player, what's it been like defending Clemson in the locker room?
Spiller: They give me a lot of grief. I stay my true colors. My blood runs orange. I'm behind these guys 100 percent. I'm always talking about them. I'm always bragging on them—all the guys. We have a couple of Miami guys that got up on me. We have a couple of Maryland guys. Hopefully, I'll be going back with the bragging rights.

How do you compare the Bills experience with the Clemson experience?
Spiller: It's two totally different things. There will never be nothing like running down the hill. The Bills fans, they're very passionate, very supportive. When you talk about Clemson, it's two totally different things. It's something that you're going to miss once you leave. That's one thing I told the guys last night. Even though I'm in the NFL doing some things, you're still going to miss it. You're not going to get those Tiger Walks, like we get now. I told them to enjoy this, because once it's gone, you're going to miss it.

What's it like in Buffalo? Are you having a good time up there, so far?
Spiller: Right now, until it gets cold. But it's fun. It's everything that you dream of. You always want to play there. You have to learn early that it's a business. You can't go in there with your feelings on your sleeve, because you never know what can happen. You go in there, you work hard…you wake up, you do your job.

What's been the biggest adjustment for you?
Spiller: Probably the terminology of the offense. You go from reading signals to listening to a play. Waking up every day, not going to class—you've got a lot of free time. It's all about how you try to perfect your craft. You do that through film study, hanging out with some guys. The experience has been good. The teammates have been great to me. They really brought me and showed me the way. The main thing you learn is to take care of your body, especially being a running back.

How is that going [with the Bills]? Clearly, it hasn't been the best season.
Spiller: You're right. It hasn't. We wouldn't expect to be 0-5 once the season started, but we are. The main thing that our team preaches, it's the same thing I told [Clemson's players]. We can't worry about what everybody else says outside the walls. We've got to believe in the 53-men we have on the team. The Titans started 0-6 and they ended up going 10-6. It's a lot football left. I've got 11 games when I go back.

Did you have one indulgence when you signed the contract?
Spiller: No. Y'all know me…nothing at all. You never know what can happen next year. The main thing is building my mom a house. I don't really get into buying stuff, too much life ahead to try to splurge right now…just a simple guy with a great job.

How many people told you that you're on their fantasy football team?
Spiller: A lot of people told me that, and a lot of people told me they dropped me, because I didn't get them any points. I tried my hardest to try to help fantasy teams out. You just have to stick with me. It's not always how you start, it's how you finish. Hopefully, there's people that have me on their team that will stick with me, and I'll finish the right way.

What would your advice be to top prospects and how to deal with agents? What can you say about your agent, Gary [Wichard], who has been linked to a lot of this stuff?
Spiller: I can tell a guy how to handle. At the end of the day, he makes the decision. He's his own self…me and Gary's relationship is great. I'm always talking to him. He's not worried about it. I'm not worried about it. When the smoke clears, he'll be fine. If somebody asked me about agent, of course I'm going to tell them he's the best. That's why I went with him, I thought he was the best. I have no concern about his name being brought up in all this. That's the way that business really is. It's all about who really gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar.


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