Babalola, a native of London, England, wore number 57 as he worked with the Clemson defensive ends. He wore a helmet, shoulder pads and shorts while the rest of the team wore complete uniform. He took part in the drills during the early stages of practice, but obviously did not do any of the hitting drills.
This is the first time Babalola has donned a football uniform
since his junior year of high school when went through preseason
practice for St. Augustine Prep in Richland, NJ. He has never played
in an organized football game.
"The hardest thing I had to do today was learn how to
pronounce his name," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden who
introduced Babalola to the team prior to practice. "I talked with
Oliver Purnell about Olu last week. When I watched our basketball
team play I was always impressed with the effort and intensity Olu
showed. He certainly has athletic ability and we look forward to
seeing what he can do during these spring practices. He is starting
out as a defensive end, but we could change him to a tight end later."
Babalola started 65 games for the Tigers over the last three
years and concluded his career on the basketball court with 694
points and 363 rebounds in 108 games. He shot 70 percent from the
foul line and averaged 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. This
past season he was the fourth leading scorer for Oliver Purnell's
Tiger team that advanced to the NIT. He scored 6.8 points per
contest and averaged 3.7 rebounds per game.
He had his best game of the year at Virginia when he led
Clemson in scoring (22), rebounding (7) assists (5) and steals (2),
the first Clemson forward in 34 years to lead the Tigers in all four
categories in the same game. He had a memorable senior night when
he scored a three-point goal with 9.8 seconds left to tie the game
against Virginia Tech. Classmate Sharrod Ford then won the game with
a dunk at the buzzer.
Babalola is attempting to become the first scholarship
basketball player to also play on the Clemson football team in 20
years. Mike Eppley played both sports at Clemson as a quarterback
and point guard for four years (1980-81 through 1983-84). Current
Clemson wide receiver Chansi Stuckey practiced with the Clemson
basketball team three years ago, but came to Clemson on a football
scholarship. He never appeared in a Clemson basketball game.
Stan Rome played both sports at Clemson during the 1975-76
academic year. He came to Clemson as a basketball player starting
with the 1974-75 academic year. He had 15 catches for 306 yards and
two touchdowns in 1975 as a wide receiver. He later played
professional football with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In addition to Eppley and Rome, the only other Clemson
athlete in the ACC era (since 1953-54) to play in at least one
football game and one basketball game over his career is Gary Cooper,
who lettered in football from 1986-89 and played one game during the
1987-88 basketball season.
Of course all-time Clemson legend Banks McFadden played with
distinction in both sports from 1937-40. He led the Clemson
basketball team to its only postseason tournament championship in
March of 1939, then led the Clemson football team to a Cotton Bowl
Babalola Joins Football Team
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