There’s that sentinel moment in all of our lives when we know it’s time to let go of those we’ve watched grow under out tutelage. To watch as they spread their own wings and fly. For Dabo Swinney, Thursday was one of those days.
Clemson held its annual Pro Day and it was a fitting place and way to say ‘fly high’ to ten players who have given so much to his program. As always, Swinney was open and honest about his true feelings, especially about what his four super seniors have meant to him personally and to the university. James Skalski, Nolan Turner, Will Spiers and Darien Rencher will never be forgotten.
“It’s bittersweet a little bit, because you know this is the last time you’re going to see them really compete in here,” Swinney said during the telecast. “But you also know they’re prepared. This is a great group of men that are going to be awesome in life without football, and they know that. They all know that, so this frees them up to just go play, go compete. This is a game with a very short shelf life.”
“So, I’m just proud of them – who they are as men, how they’ve transformed their lives over their PAW Journey, as we like to say, and know that they’re all finishers, they’ll do their best today, and I think a lot of these guys are going to have a chance to make it. But we’ve had a hundred percent job placement the last four years. So, they’re either going to work in the NFL or somewhere else, and wherever they go, they’re going to be ready.”
I understand most coaches take pride in the success of their former players but Swinney goes out of his way to make it known, never one to be tepid in expressing his true feelings about those in his charge. Why not, he’s been a large part of their lives.
Two of the four super seniors are without the presence of their biological fathers, so having a surrogate father like Swinney must have created a special, lifelong bond.
It’s comforting, I’m sure, to know you’ve always got that one special place where you are always welcomed, always accepted and always valued and where everybody knows your name. That’s exactly what every one of his players has got and other than their actual home, there are few places like their other home, Clemson.
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