There are just those few that play the sport for the fun, the competition, and the bonds of brotherhood formed by being member of a team.
When Regan Upshaw, son of NFL veteran, Regan Upshaw, Sr, decided to choose Clemson, he made a commitment. One he’d honor in spite of the number of snaps, tackles and game time received. Interestingly, as a standout at Tampa’s Alonzo High School in rugby, he had never played competitive football until he arrived on the Clemson campus.
Originally a walk-on and having never played organized football, take a cursory look at Upshaw’s stats. While limited, they show he has contributed when called upon and done so impressively.
In his first season, 2016, he did not appear in a game but as a scout team member he played a role in preparing each week to help the Tigers to their second national championship. He was developing in the strength and conditioning program, via “The Power Hour” designed individually for each student athlete. In 2017, in his first real year of competition, he had two tackles, both on special teams, in four games. He had two special teams tackles against The Citadel on Nov. 18. He never quit, kept his head up and learned.
During the 2018 season, Upshaw appeared in nine games. He is credited with two tackles in eight snaps in the season opener against Furman. He played on special teams in an additional eight games. Again, like a lot of the unsung heroes that make up the practice squad, he was yet again a national champion. The Tigers defeated Alabama in San Francisco for the programs second championship in three years.
In 2019, he contributed eight tackles in 41 defensive snaps over 13 games. He transitioned to defensive end from linebacker prior to the season.
In 2020, during the precarious season marked by the effects of Covid-19, he was there, waiting on his number to be called. Upshaw was credited with 19 tackles (3.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and a pass breakup in 166 snaps over 10 games. He was placed on scholarship for 2020 and was a NSCA Strength and Conditioning All-American.
Upshaw posted four tackles (1.5 for loss) including his first career sack, as well as a pass breakup at Wake Forest. He tied for team lead with six tackles, including a half-sack, vs. The Citadel, then added four tackles vs. Virginia. He made three tackles (0.5 for loss) at Georgia Tech and recorded another sack vs. Pitt. Finally, he made one tackle in the ACC Championship Game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame.
In 2021, in limited action he’s contributed on special teams, had three tackles (0.5 for loss) vs. SC State, had a tackle at Syracuse and made a tackle vs. UConn.
I purposely highlight his stats because they tell a deeper, more inspiring story. In the game of football there is not a more sublime word than commitment. Even absent of much reward.
No, his stats aren’t numerous, nor overly impressive by some people’s standard, but the fact is he was there, each and everyday, doing the work, speaks to the character of this young man. I’m sure he never had expectations of gridiron greatness. Hoped yes, expected, no, and that’s Regan Upshaw.
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