Humble star

CLEMSON - C.J. Spiller has created an impressive reel of highlight worthy runs during his career at Clemson.

Many consider his defining play the 50-yard swing pass for touchdown from Will Proctor against Georgia Tech in 2006.

"Everyone remembers the Georgia Tech game…that would be the defining moment," Spiller said. "But I think all my plays have been pretty good. That one sticks out the most. When people talk to me that is the one that is brought up the most."

Not one for watching his own spectacular runs, Spiller prefers watching two Marshall Faulk and Warrick Dunn.

"I try to pattern my game after them," Spiller said. "I watch those guys do their moves and try to go do those on Saturdays."

He said his similarities with Faulk begin and his time with the St. Louis Rams as part of the Greatest Show on Turf. Whether it was split out wide, catching the ball out of the backfield or running between the tackles, Spiller said the two share similar traits of versatility.

"Of course," he said, "(Faulk's) got the best number in football that you can get."

What really stands out in Spiller's opinion of Faulk's greatness was his ability to catch the ball. Although every running back has a different style, Spiller said, a strong pass catcher separates good running backs from the great ones.

That's why he's put such an emphasis on his work as a receiver throughout his career, especially during off-season training.

"It helps give me an advantage. I'm able to line up in the slot and run routes," Spiller said. "You don't have to worry about if you're going to catch it or if you're not. That's something I take great pride in."

The bulk of his touches are going to come out of the backfield on running plays. After three years of splitting the load with James Davis, Spiller's game high for carries is 21. Spiller is excited about the chance to fully showcase his talents as the feature running back.

He's quick to mention that there are two very capable, young running backs waiting for carries behind him.

"I'm not really worried about going out there and getting punished every down because I've got two great athletes in Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington that can go out there and give me (a break)," he said.

It's that willingness to share that's made Spiller such a popular Tiger over the past three years.

Not that maturity off the field has every been mentioned as an issue during his time at Clemson, Spiller does believe he's more mature today than he was in 2006.

"I understand the game now, what it's going to take to execute and focus," he said. "That's really the main difference, the maturity level."

With the season opener to Spiller's senior campaign just days away, Saturday is the moment he's been waiting for since announcing that he would return for his senior year at Clemson.

After a long month of practice, the Tigers are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

"It was a different atmosphere (Monday at practice)," Spiller said. "There was a different energy. Everyone is excited. We're getting ready to go."

The push for a Heisman campaign was officially kicked off earlier this summer at Dabo Swinney's media golf outing but now Spiller begins the quest for New York on the field, though he maintains that individual accolades aren't his goal.

It's all about winning and giving the fans of the orange and purple a good show at least 12 more times.

"Clemson has been very good to me and my family," Spiller said. "It's been a wonderful experience. I'm going to go out there and enjoy this last year, embrace the fans and just try to bring excitement each day I step onto the field."

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