Wednesday Bowl Notebook

NASHVILLE – Just to get a sense of what Thomas Hunter means to players on the football team, freshman Michael Palmer honored the injured senior in his own special way at Wednesday's practice.

Palmer moved into Hunter's starting spot after the Hunter broke his foot in practice a few weeks ago. The injury meant Hunter's career as a Clemson football player was over. The news was devastating to Hunter.

Knowing how much Hunter wants to be on the practice field preparing for his final game in Nashville, Palmer secretly grabbed Hunter's practice jersey, which was hanging in his locker, and wore it during the workout.

"I did it out of memory of Thomas," Palmer said. "We really miss him. I saw it hanging in his locker and I wanted to wear it in memory of him."

Palmer did it without telling anyone, including Hunter.

At the start of practice, Hunter was standing and chatting with this reporter when he first noticed Palmer wearing his jersey.

"Look at him out there," Hunter said laughing. "He's out there rubbing it in."

But Palmer was being as sincere as possible.

"He's like a big brother to me," he said. "Thomas has always been there for me making sure I do things the right way on and off the field. He means a lot to me."

Hunter is one of the best stories on the Clemson football team. He came to the school because he wanted to be a part of the team that he grew up cheering for as a kid, even though it meant he didn't have a scholarship and wasn't a sure thing to be on the squad.

But hard work and perseverance paid off and he became one of the best tight ends the school's had for at least a couple of head coaches.

"It really bothered me yesterday," Hunter said of not being able to practice. "That's when it really hit me that I couldn't play."

Hunter, who is without his walking boot, said he thinks Palmer is going to be a good one before it's all said and done.

"He's extremely smart," Hunter said. "All he needs to do is gain about 25 more pounds and get a little stronger and he's going to be real good. I mean real good."

Here's hoping he's as good a person off the field as Hunter is, too.

Tuesday night festivities
The players from Kentucky and Clemson got together Tuesday night in one of the more famous places in Nashville for a rib eating contest and a Karaoke contest Tuesday night.

The contests took place at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown and it wasn't a good night for the Tigers.

First off, in the eating contest, Clemson redshirt freshman defensive tackle Elsmore Gabriel was eating so fast that he could have died … literally.

He started choking and had to be helped.

"I couldn't breathe, couldn't talk, so for safety, the guy (a Music City Bowl official) got behind me," Gabriel said. "It was a little scary at first, but then the guy started doing the Heimlich on me."

Like the competitor that he is, once the object was exhumed from his body, Gabriel didn't blink an eye before he started chowing down on more ribs.

In the singing contest, offensive tackle Marion Dukes was ready to perform one of his favorite songs. But there were problems. His favorite songs weren't available.

Can somebody please explain how it's possible that the most famous country bar in the most famous country music city in the world doesn't have hits by Toby Keith? Well, that's what happened, so Dukes never got a chance to sing.

Oddly enough, there were no problems finding rap songs.

Screen happy
Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said Kentucky uses more screens than any team he's seen, including the Tigers.

He said the types of screens the Wildcats will throw include tunnel, hitch, half-sprint, tight end delay, fluid and roll-out, just to name a few. Koenning named a few others, but the names were too long to fully grasp.

Defending the screen is something Clemson has done extremely well all year. In fact, it might have been the best part of the defense. Top Stories