With the injury bug spreading through the Clemson roster like never before, players further down the depth chart are getting opportunities to shine.
One of those players is fifth year senior Will Brown. The wide receiver out of Boiling Springs is a lifelong Clemson fan, and all he ever wanted was an opportunity. Now he’s getting one.
With Will Taylor out, Brown has become the Tigers primary punt returner in recent weeks, and has even been getting time at receiver. The guy who started his career as a preferred walk-on is now having as much fun on the field as as he has off the field during his collegiate career.
“I grew up a Clemson guy, and I’ve been a Clemson guy my whole life,” said Brown. “To finally get an opportunity to contribute and make a difference on the field, it means a whole lot. It’s been a lot of fun too. I’ve been trying to enjoy my last year knowing that I’m going to be hanging them up (his cleats) here in a few months after the season. I’m just trying to have fun with it and enjoy it as much as I can.”
Being a lifelong fan isn’t the only tie Brown has to the school. His mother and father are alums, as his his older brother.
“Both my parents went to Clemson, my older brother was at Clemson, and I knew this is the only place I really wanted to be,” Brown said. “I was either going to come here as a student, or I was going to come here and play ball. Coach Swinney gave me an opportunity to come here and play ball, so it was a no-brainer for me.”
Over the years, the Tigers have had a number of walk-on players leave their marks on the program. None more memorable than Hunter Renfrow. Now there is a standard in place for all walk-ons and Brown said at times, head coach Dabo Swinney expects even more out of those players who walked on to the team.
“There’s definitely a standard of being a walk-on here at Clemson,” said Brown. “Coach Swinney always expects above and beyond from a walk-on because obviously we don’t come here on scholarship, so the goal is to one day get on scholarship and be able to play or do whatever we want to do to help the team. If you’re going to be a walk-on at Clemson, you can’t be the guy that’s cutting corners or skipping classes and the weight room. You have to be a grinder, a blue-collar type of guy.”
Five years later and Brown has no regrets. It might have taken awhile for his hard work to pay off on the field, but that is exactly what is happening in his final season. And According to Brown, it was a lesson from his late grandfather that gave him the mindset to have that success.
I’ve definitely been able to see the fruits of my labor,” Brown said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence but my grandfather passed away back in January from COVID and his saying to us was always ‘keep the faith.’ That’s been something very near and dear to my heart, to keep the faith, to never give up and to never fold. It’s been really sweet.”
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