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Sep 14, 2018

WALK ON DREAM

By: SIERRA HEIL

Note: The following appears in the Georgia Southern gameday football program


Those who have attended a game in Death Valley know that it is a difficult experience to forget. Growing up just over an hour from Clemson in Inman, S.C., senior linebacker Matthew King has been able to experience Tiger football both in the stands and on the field.

Although he was not originally accepted into Clemson, King seized the opportunity to become a part of the Bridge to Clemson Program, allowing him to become a full-time Clemson student after taking classes at Tri-County Technical College for one year.

“I’ve been a Clemson fan all my life. I would come to Death Valley to watch games all the time.
“I was offered as a preferred walk-on coming out of high school, but I didn’t quite make it into Clemson. I went the Bridge route, and after a year, I was able to join the team.”
Many have been able to experience ‘the most exciting 25 seconds in college football’ as fans, but King described running down the Hill for the first time as a player as one of the greatest experiences in his college career.
“The best moment is the first time you get to run down the Hill before you even get to run. You’re standing at the top of the Hill and you can look out and see everyone. It makes you appreciate where you’re at and shows that all the hard work paid off.”

After proving himself both athletically and academically, King has continued to grow and learn. He credited many of the lessons he has learned to his experiences and opportunities as a member of the Clemson football program.

“P.A.W. Journey and every little extra thing you do other than football gets you ready for life, because not everyone is going to play football after this, so it definitely prepares us.”
The values that are taught both on and off the field by head coach Dabo Swinney have also helped King stay focused in achieving his goals. After graduation in 2019, he hopes to carry lessons learned as a student-athlete into a potential career as a project manager for a commercial construction company.

“Being a student-athlete makes you work a whole lot harder on everything else in your life. Football takes up a tremendous amount of time, and we don’t get a lot of free time. It makes you focus on things that are important. It keeps your life on track with what you have to do and how you have to do it.”

King also praised the leadership of his fellow Tiger teammates in showing others how to be positive and work hard, both on and off the field. As one of the many veterans on the 2018 squad, King strives to be a leader for the younger players.

“Football is tough, so it can be easy to get discouraged about certain things. Instead, I strive to keep everyone encouraged and focused on our goals.”

He hopes to leave a legacy as a hard worker and persistent teammate who never gave up when things got tough. Clemson has taught King to help people around him and to do things with integrity and courage in all aspects of life.

“Clemson shows that you don’t have to cut corners, you don’t have to cheat and you don’t have to do things under the table to be successful. Clemson does it the right way.”

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