Note: The following appears in the Georgia Tech football gameday program.
For senior wide receiver Brannon Spector, Clemson runs in the family. Spector’s father, Robbie, was a Tiger wide receiver who lettered from 1988-90, and his brother, Baylon, is a former Tiger linebacker and 2022 NFL draft pick who is now playing for the Buffalo Bills. His sister, Blair, is also a Clemson graduate and former Tiger cheerleader.
While being the youngest child in his family, following in their footsteps and attending Clemson was a simple decision for Spector.
“It wasn’t too hard to choose Clemson. My family had a lot to do with it, with my dad and brother playing here and my sister cheering here. I loved the program, the culture and what Coach (Dabo) Swinney was about.”
While Clemson is indeed a family affair, Spector also knew Clemson would teach him to grow in more ways than just on the football field.
“I knew that if I came to Clemson, it would help me grow into a better man and prepare me for life after football. I also knew I would leave with a solid degree that would set me up well for future business endeavors. It was an easy choice for me.”
Spector grew up in Calhoun, Ga. and has been playing football since he could first walk. Although he originally played a plethora of sports throughout his elementary and middle school years, he eventually narrowed the selection down to just football and track through high school. A talented wide receiver who also played on the other side of the ball as a safety, Spector received a scholarship offer from Clemson prior to his junior season at Calhoun High School.
While making the decision to attend Clemson was easy, Spector noted that the transition from high school student-athlete to college student-athlete was a challenging one.
“It was tough being a freshman and having to adjust to the student-athlete life in a top-tier football program, but ever since I got through that adjustment period, it’s been great. I found my crew, the guys who I hang out with and enjoy being around, both inside and outside of football, and it has been awesome.”
Spector’s allegiance to Clemson is originally rooted in his immediate family, but over his years on campus, he has found more than just that. He has found his Clemson Family.
“One of the ongoing highlights for me is getting to hang out with the guys who I battle beside on the football field. Being able to work hard and grind beside your brothers, but then also getting to spend time with each other off the field and enjoy life together, is great. These guys have become like family.”
Although he has found his niche and second family within the Clemson football program, Spector cannot help but credit his brother for being one of the men he looks up to. Baylon is two years older than his brother and someone Brannon credited as being an admirable role model.
“My brother is someone I have looked up to since I was a kid. He always gave me a blueprint for how life should look, and it’s been awesome to follow in his footsteps. Coming here with him and seeing how he worked, how he went about things, his mindset and his leadership, he really helped teach me how to do it all for myself.”
Relying on both the family he already had and the family he made at Clemson was something Spector learned how to do heading into the 2021 season. But in the early months of 2021, he was diagnosed with COVID-19, and after a month, he realized he was not recovering as expected. Even going through mundane tasks made him feel out of breath, and he started experiencing severe acid reflux, enough so that he reduced his diet to plain chicken and rice.
Doctors eventually determined that the bout with COVID-19 had caused a stomach valve to stop functioning properly, allowing stomach acid to enter his esophagus and causing acid reflux and asthmatic symptoms. Spector underwent surgery later in the year to reconstruct the valve. The surgery was successful, and he reported being asymptomatic just over two weeks later.
“That year was tough, and it was probably the toughest period of my life so far. I truly learned what adversity was like, as I had never experienced something that severe.
“Going through trials like that teaches you to cherish life and lean on those who care about you. Life is short, and I really got a new perspective on life, how to enjoy it and not take anything for granted.”
Even though his health issues kept him sidelined for the 2021 season, Spector returned to the gridiron for the 2022 season, when he logged career highs for games, starts, snaps, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. His two critical plays on special teams at Florida State that year, stopping a fake punt and recovering an onside kick, earned him special teams player-of-the-game honors from the coaches.
Following the 2023 season, Spector plans on finishing his master’s degree in athletic leadership and entering the NFL draft in the spring. Once his football journey comes to an end, he hopes to become involved in the concrete industry, initially in sales and eventually aspiring to own a concrete plant one day.
His time at Clemson may be drawing to a close, but Spector is confident that the family he has made during his time in Tigertown carries with him for the rest of his life.
“I am very appreciative of Clemson football, the staff and everyone who has helped me through the entire time I’ve been here. I am also very grateful for the fans and their support of me and the team. I appreciate everyone always being there to cheer us on.”