It’s said the shortest, most efficient path between two points is a straight line.
That is the perfect description of the three Swinney brother’s path to the team coached by a man that just happens to be their dad. It sounds like an easy, forgone conclusion, them attending Clemson and it’s true.
As a testament to their dad, his program and Clemson University, the three have stated there was never a second thought. It was just understood, they were, are and always will be, Clemson Lifers.
Imagine growing up in a family where your life is constantly under the glare of the bright lights. No, not focused on you but on your dad and your mom, the first family of Clemson Football, Kathleen and Dabo Swinney. It has to be a mixed blessing.
I liken it to being a small town preacher’s son. Everyone in the town, the state and even the country knows them and have watched these three grow into young adulthood.
I’m sure they’ve felt at times, as if the eyes of the entire world were upon them, just waiting for them to partake in teenage mischief. It has to be a little daunting. There is however, a tremendous upside to being in a famous, prosperous family. Who wouldn’t like to walk in their shoes, if only for a day?
I remember back in 2008, watching the introductory press conference naming their dad as the new interim head coach. There in the center row sat Kathleen Swinney and her three boys and yes, they were all squirming and wiggling like all little boys do, trying their very best to just stay in their chair.
I remember thinking, in that moment, how much their little lives would change going forward. While I can only look on from afar, their lives, despite it being anything but normal, surprisingly, is just that, normal. All a testament to two people that lives by the four guiding principles of faith, family, football and philanthropy. The Swinney’s do it all so well, it almost looks effortless.
Most people, especially Clemson people, support anyone that wears the Tiger Paw. Swinney’s three sons are no exception, they’re all like the Clemson Family’s nephews.
However, there are those that whisper, in the back recesses of the family that throw out such ugly words as favoritism and nepotism. Stupid remarks that imply many things, none either good nor relevant but still said and heard. Will, then Drew and soon Clay will be bare the brunt of such foolish chatter.
These young men deserve their Paw. Will was and Drew still is listed as a wide receiver. However, their main role on the team is that of the place holder on field goals and PAT’s. They’re exceptional as Clay will be. Swinney even alluded to that fact in speaking of his 2022 recruiting class saying, “there’s another Swinney as holder, all is well.”
As fans, we can’t begin to understand the pressures of being “the coach’s son.” You have to work harder, play smarter, expect no graces and prove yourself everyday on the practice fields of Jervey Meadows in the grind of the sweltering August heat.
It’s a daily task, one they understood and accepted even before their arrival. They have to love Clemson with more than just a passing affection. Like most in the Clemson Family, each must have a deep, abiding love for this place, their home, Clemson SC.
Will has completed his playing career and was graduated in December with an MBA. He now moves on to whatever lies ahead, and all wish him well. Drew, still has eligibility left, so for the first time ever, Drew and Clay could be teammates.
In an interview with Clay, shortly after signing day, he mentioned how much it means to be able to learn from his brothers. They have much to teach and him much to learn, but it will be a labor of love, brother helping brother.
Yes, the shortest, most efficient path between two distinct points is a straight line, but it’s not the most interesting nor the most unique. No, it’s the path that starts in one place and ends just a few miles in the distance in the same place. That’s the Swinney brother’s chosen path to their future and few have ever, or will ever, take that same path. That short and scenic trip from Clemson to Clemson.
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