Following in the footsteps

Christian Groomes finds himself in the same shoes that Chandler Catanzaro was in at this time five years ago.

In January of 2009, Catanzaro was a senior at Christ Church, weighing his options. He had scholarship offers to kick at Furman and Carson-Newman.

Dabo Swinney invited him to walk-on at Clemson.

After five years and four seasons, Catanzaro ended his Clemson career as one of the most decorated place kickers in school history. Now that his college days are over, there are a number of candidates ready to compete for his vacant spot -- Ammon Lakip, Alex Spence and Groomes.

During his senior season at Daniel High School, Groomes went 14-for-22 on field goals and made 66 extra-points.

"I got offered the preferred walk-on the Thursday night before the BHP game of last year…when I was watching my brother play [jayvee for Daniel]," Groomes told CUTigers on Monday. "Dabo had previously spoken to me about the possibility of walking on when I made a longer field goal at practice in the summer -- it was a 47-yard field goal, and it was good from about 50-52 yards.

"He was there and he told me if I kept working at it, he told me that I would have a walk-on spot available."

Groomes showed enough signs of improvement for Swinney to make the offer that night.

"He said that he would love to have me on the team. He saw a difference in the power in my leg from the summer when he first saw me," Groomes said.

Clemson hosted the 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect for an official visit over the weekend.

"I guess you could say I accepted it this past weekend when I went on my official visit," Groomes said.

Clemson wasn't the only school courting the left-footed kicker.

"I'd been hearing from Charleston Southern a little bit. They kind of popped on my radar the past week or week and a half, but I'm pretty dead set on Clemson," he said.

And it further strengthens the pipeline from Daniel to Clemson.

"I've lived in Clemson almost my whole life. It's a dream to be able to do that," Groomes said. "To try and follow in the footsteps of Nuk [Hopkins], Jarvis [Jenkins], Deshawn [Williams], Adrien [Dunn], D.J. [Greenlee] and all those other guys from Daniel to Clemson, I love to have that opportunity."

After watching Catanzaro for four years, Groomes knows that there's more up for grabs than just a spot on the Clemson roster.

"I've actually gotten to know him. We really have similar stories, backgrounds," Groomes said. "I didn't play football until my sophomore year of high school and I think it was the same with him.

"We both got offered walk-ons. That's just hope. I think it's even more motivation for me to work hard and want to play. Obviously, that's everyone's goal, to play. I really want to be able to get on the field at some point and earn a scholarship."

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