Hot Rod's time arrives... finally

CLEMSON - There isn't a thing wrong with Roderick McDowell being the most excited guy in the room. He's earned that right.

At the very least, his status as a senior grants him consent. So does the journey he's taken to reach this point.

Leaving Clemson was once an option for McDowell, a very legitimate one at that. Facing the odds that he did, most folks wouldn't have traversed the road that McDowell opted to take.

But he toughed it out, opting to stay at Clemson after three long seasons of not doing a whole lot on game days. McDowell's patience finally paid off last season when he finished second among Clemson running backs with 450 yards and five touchdowns.

Now the Tigers' starting running back, he entered Monday morning's media obligation with a big smile and an energy rarely seen from a player not named Tajh Boyd.

"Turn up, ya'll," McDowell told reporters, while approaching the interviewee chair. "It's game week."

There are plenty of reasons for him to be excited about what's in store for this Saturday.

"It's the opener. It's Georgia. It's my last go-around. That's really got me pumped. It's my last one. I'm a senior," he said. "It's my last-time playing in front of my family, in front of the orange. I'm just ready to go. I'm just ready to be out there and run down the hill.

"One thing I'm very excited about is the environment. The atmosphere that's going around, we're peaking right now. This game, right here, could be like Clemson has arrived."

While the Clemson coaches might claim that Saturday's game versus No. 5 Georgia isn't any more important than an opener against a team like South Carolina State, McDowell thinks otherwise.

"The first game is a momentum game for us. The first game dictates your season," McDowell said.

For a team with such high hopes for this season, this is a big game, a really, really, really big game.

That's how McDowell is looking at this Game Day showdown with the Dawgs.

"This is all you play for, really. Against a top team -- Georgia -- going out there to compete, both of us are ranked," McDowell said. "That's the best way to start the season off."

He's right. These kinds of season openers are a whole lot more exciting than a week one showdowns between a Top 25 program and Directional State College.

We, too, are excited, Roderick. Turned up, if you will.

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