Living A Lifelong Dream

As football season approaches, some players are hoping to be starters when Georgia visits the valley on August 30, but other players are simply looking forward to putting on the Clemson uniform and enjoying the game day experience as a Clemson Tiger. caught up with walk-on quarterback Rush Lowther, and we've got an in-depth interview that will remind many what college football is really about.

The 6-1, 215-pound walk-on quarterback from Florence, South Carolina is living his life long dream. Lowther led Byrnes High School to the state championship his junior season, and he rushed for 1000 yards and passed for 1000 in 3 straight years.

The talented athlete also played free safety his senior season and pulled in a very impressive 9 interceptions. Lowther is a rising sophomore at Clemson, and this year he will be enjoying his first season as a Clemson Tiger.

How did you become a member of the Clemson football team?
Lowther: I came up to Clemson on April 18 of my senior season and talked to Coach Stockstill. He told me that I could try to walk-on to the team. I came to Clemson the summer before my freshman year and started weight lifting and running. I talked to Andy Johnson, the walk-on coordinator, and he told me to show up Aug. 23 at 5:30 AM. He said to be ready to run more than in I have in my life. I was the second person to show up that morning and was one of 40 guys. We ran through cone drills and did the 300-yard shuttle. Andy Johnson came up to me afterwards and said he would give me a call. I got a call in January to come walk-on to the team and get ready for spring ball.

When did you join the team?
Lowther: In February I started matt drills with the team. We got up at 4:30 and ran from 5 to 6.

How did you become a walk-on quarterback?
Lowther: The first day of spring ball I talked to Coach O'Cain. I told him I was walking on but was not sure what position. I told him I played quarterback and free safety my senior season. He said well come with me for the first practice and we'll see how you throw. He saw me throwing the first day and said I looked pretty good. He told me to watch Charlie and Willie and I'd catch on.

What does it feel like to be a member of the Clemson football team?
Lowther: I've been thrilled to be out there. It's been my dream ever since I can remember.

Why did you decide to attend Clemson?
Lowther: My Granddad came to Clemson when it was military school. Both his sons played golf at Clemson. My mom came here for a year. My first game was when I was 6. I saw them come down the hill and knew that's what I wanted to do.

Were you surprised to make the team as a walk-on quarterback?
Lowther: I went into it with an open mind. I was willing to play any position. At this level beggars can't be choosers. I was astonished when Coach O'Cain liked my arm and my arm strength.

What has Coach Bowden told you?
Lowther: At the end of spring ball Coach Bowden had a one on one meeting with each player. He asked how I thought I did during spring practice. I told him I thought I did pretty well. He told me he had seen me throw the long ball and thought by my junior or senior season that I might have a chance to play a little bit.

What is it like being a walk-on football player?
Lowther: When you come in as a walk-on you don't come in with respect. You have to make your name and gain respect from the players. A lot of the scholarship players get treated very well. All of the players have accepted me. They are all very nice, accepting and thrilled to have me on the team. They give you respect for doing what you do to make the team knowing your not guaranteed to play. A lot of players wonder if it is worth it. Every day I ask myself is it worth it. Every day when I walk in and see my name on the locker at Clemson it reassures me that I'm chasing a life long dream.
What kind of example has Tommy Sharpe been for you?
Lowther: Tommy is a great example. He is one of my great friends on the team. He is rooting for me. He supports me for what I've done.

Tell us about Willie Simmons.
Lowther: He loved being out there with the guys. Willie would always support me. He would say good ball. He was a team leader and he was always laughing. He was definitely a team guy. He knew what he had on his mind, and he just wanted to start somewhere. He took the time to come tell me he was leaving. I had only been on the team for 1 month. He was very well respected by all of his teammates.

What are your thoughts about starting quarterback Charlie Whitehurst?
Lowther: He is a great person. He is so determined and focused on the field and off. I work out with him and Stuckey every day. He will do an extra set of reps every day. He knows he is the leader. He is dealing with it well. Any question I have he answers. He always tells me I have a shot of playing one day. He gives me a lot of confidence in myself.

What are some of your memories from the spring?
Lowther: In the spring game I threw a 23-yard pass to Hunter. I couldn't get over that.

What are your goals for this year?
Lowther: One of my goals for this year is to get stronger. One of my main goals is to learn the game. In high school we ran the triple option so I wasn't able to learn pass coverage's. I want to make sure when my chance does arrive I can step in and do the job. I want to do something in practice every day to get the coaches attention. I want them to think this kid wants to be out here and he's not here just to take a position. Every day is like a try out.

What is the attitude of the team right now?
Lowther: It is unbelievable. In spring it was dog eat dog. Everyone was fighting for position. Now everyone has come together. We've all given blood, sweat and tears. Everyone is helping everyone.

What is the confidence level on the team?
Lowther: We are very confident. Almost 100 percent of the people are showing up each day to lift and run.

Have you met any of the incoming freshmen?
Lowther: I met CJ Gaddis. He's a very nice guy. I also met Sergio Gilliam. He was also a real nice guy. I also met Chris Capote. I asked him if he wanted to redshirt and he said he hopes to play. I look for him to make a statement this year.

What do you think of Coach O'Cain?
Lowther: He's a great guy. I have his number this year, number 11. He grew up in the country hunting and fishing and that's what I like to do. He treats me like his son. He accepted me and was willing to teach me as well as the other guys.

What team are you looking forward to playing the most?
Lowther: South Carolina. As a kid I came to 2 or 3 games every year, but I always came to the SC game. I can't wait to see it from the sidelines.

Which players do you think may surprise the fans this fall?
Lowther: Definitely Kelvin Grant. He has been really impressive. During practice we'll sit back and watch him go up in the air and stay forever. He catches everything. Curtis Baham had his head together and he looks really good at practice.

We would like to thank Lowther for taking time to speak with and for providing the photograph. We look forward to hearing more from the walk-on quarterback as the season progresses. Top Stories