Lightning stops through Clemson

CLEMSON - Former Clemson star and current NFL Draft prospect C.J. Spiller was in town over the weekend for appearances at Littlejohn Coliseum.

He nearly made a $17,500 half-court shot for a Clemson student.

On national television, it was the first-time C.J. Spiller had shot a basketball since the 12th grade. As rusty as a jumper could be after a four-year hiatus from the game, he needed just a few practice shots in the upstairs gym to get loose.

And still, he almost made it. The ball needed another half rotation to fall.

Just think if it had fallen. The raucous crowd of 4,000 probably would have rushed the court.

"You have a different perspective on it when you come back as alum," he said of appearing before Tiger fans for the first-time since putting the final touches on his Clemson career.

It wasn't that long ago that he was scoring the winning touchdown in the Music City Bowl.

The newness of being a college graduate still makes him chuckle.

"That's probably my first-time saying (I'm an alum)…it's kind of strange, but I'm very happy that I came back and graduated."

Lately, Spiller's been spending his time training in Los Angeles in preparation for the NFL Draft with athletic trainer Ryan Capretta. Spiller's working out with a host of other big-name draft prospects: Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Southern California safety Taylor Mays, Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn and Southern California defensive end Everson Griffen. Everyone in the workout group is represented by Gary Rashard.

"We push each other. Each guy wants the others to get better. That's all you can ask for," Spiller said.

He pays no mind to the bevy of mock drafts that have been released over the recent weeks. It wouldn't matter where he ends up anyway. Spiller's confident that he can be the same old C.J. anywhere, no matter if it's snowy Green Bay, sunny Miami or rainy Seattle.

"Wherever," he said, "wherever my name's called."

In the meantime, Spiller's spending the next month or so in Los Angeles until the Scouting Combine. He's yet to make plans for where he'll watch the draft.

"I'm just worrying about getting stronger and faster," he said.

Spiller's enjoying living the dream he's dreamt since he was a little boy.

"You always want to play at the highest level that you can play at," he said. "Now the opportunity presents itself. You just have to take advantage of the moment, and that's kind of what I've been doing."

As for the most famous toes in Clemson football history, they're OK.

"They're great, wonderful. I'm running, cutting, doing the necessary things I need to do," Spiller said.

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