Dream come true for Elliott

CLEMSON - Somebody pinch Tony Elliott, because he's got to be dreaming.

The former Clemson wide receiver spent the last three years as Furman's wide receivers coach before Dabo Swinney named him the Tigers' running backs coach.

"I'm still waiting for the alarm clock to go off and to wake up and realize that maybe it's just a dream," Elliott said at Thursday's introductory press conference.

Furman head coach Bruce Fowler retained Elliott from the previous staff and named him wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

"I was excited and anxious, ready to go to work," Elliott said.

Clemson called, and he had to go back home.

After turning down an appointment to the Air Force Academy, Elliott enrolled at Clemson in January of 1999.

He walked on to the football team and lettered as a wide receiver from 2000-03. As a senior co-captain, he had 23 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown.

Following his graduation with a degree in Industrial Engineering, Elliott worked at Michelin for two years.

"The only thing I ever wanted to do was wear a tie to work," he said. "I thought, if I could wear a tie to work, obviously I'm successful, I've done something positive with my life and I'm happy, and I'm going to be making a lot of money.

"Once I got to that point in my life, I realized there was more to life than making money. You've got to be patient about what you do. You've got to be happy to get up in the morning."

Two years after he left Clemson, he was far from happy.

Tony Elliott caught this nine yard touchdown pass in a 39-3 win at Georgia Tech in 2003. (AP)
At Michelin, he was charged with the duty of studying every job in the plant to determine if any needed to be combined or eliminated. People who'd built the plant 30 years earlier were being told by a fresh, out of college ex-football player that their jobs were no longer necessary.

"It didn't fit my personality," Elliott said. "I like to interact with people, and I had to be the guy that told them, ‘Your job is being suppressed.'"

His first coaching gig was a volunteer assistant position at Easley High School. Even that wasn't fulfilling enough—he only made it through spring practice.

Up next was an interview for a graduate assistant position with former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden and offensive coordinator Rob Spence. But the former Tiger coaches decided to go in another direction.

A few days later, S.C. State called, invited him for an interview and offered the wide receivers coach job.

Two years later, he was at Furman.

Now, he's back in Clemson. And he couldn't be happier.

"I'm just excited to be here. When [former Furman] coach [Bobby] Lamb resigned, did I think this was going to be the end result? No. But I'm very blessed and fortunate," Elliott said. "I'm very thankful and appreciative of the opportunity."

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