The team began the day with a morning Christmas brunch at the team hotel. The event included Christmas Carol singing by current players. The Tigers then practiced from 1:15 pm to 3:50 pm. Swinney was pleased with the effort and performance on Thursday.
“We had a great Tuesday practice, one of the best Tuesday practices we have had in a while,” said Swinney, who is leading his seventh bowl game as head coach of the Tigers. “While most people were sitting around eating turkey, our guys were not feeling sorry for themselves. They worked very hard today and it is a reflection of this team and their work ethic.”
The varsity section of the practice ended with a 50-yard field goal by kicker Ammon Lakip.
The final 20 minutes of practice were devoted to a scrimmage for the younger players, many of whom were redshirting this year. It was the final “JV” practice of the bowl season.
“I was very pleased with what I saw on both sides of the ball. We started with three straight three-and-outs turned in by the defense. Then the offense made a great drive to the one-yard line. On fourth down the defense stopped the offense. It was a very competitive scrimmage.”
Marcus Edmond had the defensive highlight with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. C.J. Fuller led the offense with 37 yards rushing in eight carries and was a big reason the offense drove 74 yards on its last possession.
The Clemson players will have two special stickers on their helmet for the Russell Athletic Bowl. First, the bowl will provide a sticker symbolic of participation in the contest against the Oklahoma Sooners. A second sticker will commemorate the 75-Year anniversary of Clemson’s first bowl game, the Tigers 6-3 win over Boston College and Head Coach Frank Leahy in the 1940 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Tex.
That was a major victory in Clemson football history as the win was the school’s first over a top 20 team and clinched the program’s first top 20 season. The 1939 Clemson team was led by All-American Banks McFadden and finished with a 9-1 record, at the time the most wins in a season in Clemson history.
Clemson Director of Equipment Abe Reed will be a busy many in the coming days affixing those stickers, plus the Mortar Board stickers for 14 active players who graduated in December. Clemson players wear Mortar Board stickers on their helmets once they graduate. Eight current players earned their undergraduate degrees prior to the beginning of the season, so 22 Clemson players will wear the stickers in the Russell Athletic Bowl. It will be the most graduates Clemson has had for the kickoff of a game and Clemson’s 22 graduates is tied for the most in the nation with several other schools.
Reed is also responsible for keeping track of the Tiger Paw stickers players earn and wear over the course of the season on their helmets. Stephone Anthony has the most on the current team with 153. Tony Steward is second with 136 and Ben Boulware is second with 118. Players get the stickers for big plays on offense, defense or special teams.
*Among the visitors to practice on Thursday was current PGA Tour golfer Trevor Immelman. Immelman, who lives in Orlando, adopted Clemson as his favorite college team after meeting Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney on an off-season fishing trip a few years ago. Swinney introduced Immelman to the team prior to practice on Thursday and the 2008 Masters Champion said a few words of encouragement to the team. Immelman follows the Tigers each Saturday during the fall, either on television or in person. “Clemson is my adopted college,” said Immelman, who grew up in South Africa and turned professional after high school.
*Swinney had his picture made with Immelman and his family before practice. It was the second time this month Swinney had his picture made with a Masters Champion in the city of Orlando. Swinney met Jack Nicklaus at the ESPN College Football Awards Show two weeks ago. Nicklaus’s grandson, Nick O’Leary of Florida State, won the John Mackey Award at that program.
*Eight different Clemson seniors will play in postseason all-star games this year. There could be others, but that is the amount so far. Grady Jarrett, Corey Crawford and Stephone Anthony will play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala on Jan. 24. That game will be televised on the NFL Network. Cole Stoudt, Deshawn Williams and Tavaris Barnes will all participate in the NFLPA Bowl in Carson, Cal., on Saturday, Jan. 17. That contest will be televised by ESPN2. Daniel Rodriguez and Garry Peters will be former Tigers in the Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, Jan. 10.
*The Russell Athletic Bowl Kickoff Luncheon will be held on Sunday, December 28 at noon at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Tickets are available to the event through Friday. Below is the information.
Russell Athletic Bowl Kickoff Luncheon
Sunday, Dec. 28, Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, 6637 Sea Harbor Drive ( Map
Individual tickets: $62
Table of eight (plus two players): $600
Call 407.423.2476 or purchase