Checking In with Anthony Waters

The tale of former Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters is truly an inspirational one.

Waters, now a rookie with the NFL's San Diego Chargers, missed his entire senior year at Clemson after suffering a devastating knee injury in the season opener.

Undeterred, he worked his way back and in April, the San Diego Chargers took him in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

That came just a few short months after Waters got his degree in Sports Management, the first member of his family to graduate from college.

His entire life has been all about overcoming obstacles, something that Anthony has done with class and grace and Waters' perseverance has landed him in a place he always dreamed of being, in the NFL.

He uses his status as a pro athlete to be a great role model for youth and never forgets all that he had to overcome to reach this point. He is always talking to kids about the value of education and how far it can take them in life.

CUTigers recently caught up with him by phone from San Diego and here's that conversation.

CUTigers: Anthony first off, what are your thoughts on your time at Clemson?
Waters: I really did enjoy my time at Clemson. I really miss Clemson but I wish I could have played more my senior year instead of watching it from the sidelines, which made it a little harder than what it is right now.

CUTigers: How is your knee?
Waters: I'm feeling really good now. The tendon injury happened a year ago and I feel good about myself. My knee is back to where it was before I got hurt. I'm just thankful that my coaches here with the Chargers think more of me than to just throw me out there. They want to make sure that everything is OK with my knee before they do anything with me. I'm just thankful for that.

"My knee is back to where it was before I got hurt. I'm just thankful that my coaches here with the Chargers think more of me than to just throw me out there."
CUTigers: You, along with Charlie Whitehurst, are one of two Tigers in San Diego. Discuss your relationship with him.
Waters: Charlie and I had a good relationship at Clemson and that just continued when I got here. We get together and hang out every now and then. We have a friendship that will last for a lifetime. It's just like it is with any of the other guys that I played with at Clemson. Any time we're around each other, all of us seem to get together and carry on like we used to.

CUTigers: Can you quantify how much it meant for you to finish your degree last December?
Waters: That meant a lot to me considering that I was the first in my family to graduate college and high school. Going through my injury and everything, some people don't realize that you can't always play football and that you need some kind of education and a plan B to fall back on. With my degree, I can have something going on for myself.

CUTigers: To finish your degree, you did an internship in the Sports Information Office at Clemson. How much insight did that give you into how much goes on behind the scenes?
Waters: That gave me a lot of insight. I tip my hat to the guys who do that job. There's really a lot of hard work and people don't realize how much they prepare to get the teams ready for the season. It's really a lot of hard work and they put a lot of hours into it.

CUTigers: How have you been able to overcome so many obstacles in your life?
Waters: Basically, what's kept me going is that ever since I was 12 or 13, I always wanted things and realized that if you want something bad enough, you can really get it as long as you stay focused, stay determined and refuse to give up. You have to be relentless, make your mind up, go get it and do what it takes. You can't let anything stop you. I've been through so many obstacles. People know about a few of the things that I've been through but there have been a lot more than just that. You just have to put on your blinders and look straight forward. If they put a brick wall in front of you, you can't let it stop you. I was always told that God won't put you through anything you can't handle and I always believed that. I always thought that God was doing that just to test me or whatever. I just try to stay focused and keep my eye on the prize.

CUTigers: Talk about how much you like to give back to the community.
Waters: Every time I get a chance to go home, I always go by my elementary, middle and high school. I always try to educate those kids about how important education is. That's the first thing I mention is education, being respectful and little things like that. I talk to them and sign autographs for everyone. I'm from a small town, so there aren't too many people who get out of where I'm from. I just try to be a positive role model and try to give people something to look forward to in life.

CUTigers: How much did it mean for you to be able to go down the hill and touch the rock one last time in your final game last year against South Carolina?
Waters: It was really something that I thought of as soon as I got hurt. I thought about my last game at Clemson being the South Carolina game. That was something that I really wanted to do. I kind of wanted to get on the field for one more play but with the circumstances, that wouldn't work out. Just to run down the hill and to touch that rock one more time, it just meant so much to me. When I was at Clemson, I was always out there jumping around on the field because I play with a lot of emotion. It was great for the fans. That was basically why I was doing it, to hear the roar of the crowd one last time. It brought tears to my eyes and it was very emotional for me. I thank the Lord for giving me the strength to make it down that hill one more time.

CUTigers: Just a few months after you got your degree, you were drafted. How emotional was that day for you?
Waters: At first, there was a sigh of relief. I was just happy to get picked on the first day after not playing a season of football. It was a blessing from God. Once they (the Chargers) called and told me that they were going to pick me, at the time, it was the most exciting time in my life. Now, I'm getting to live out a dream. I've been dreaming all my life of playing in the NFL and now, I'm living out that dream and getting to do what I've loved for a long time. It just feels good to run around out there and do it all over again.

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