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Chad Speck Is A Leader And Role Model On The Field And Off It

Nov. 22, 2000

by Samantha Carruth Clemson Sports InformationThe South Carolina Game Program – November 18, 2000

Senior Chad Speck will always be remembered in Clemson Tiger history for his 18-yard touchdown against Auburn in the 1998 Peach Bowl on a blocked punt return.

A freshman at the time, Speck, the only player in Clemson history to score a touchdown on a blocked punt return in a bowl game, was a football neophyte at the time. It was his first bowl game appearance and the game was on national television. “Looking back it seems so long ago and I know so much more about the college football game now,” said Speck.

The second team free safety has definitely proven that he has developed into a college athlete. Speck set the Clemson single game record for special teams tackles with seven against Georgia Tech during the 1999 season. Number-31 needs just three special teams tackles in today’s game to break Ashley Sheppard’s career record. Sheppard had 45 between 1989-92 and Speck has 43, including 14 this year.

Speck, who serves as president of LIFELINE, Clemson’s football leadership organization, has not only developed into a talented athlete, but a leader and role model on the football field as well.

“My role is to lead by example. I am not extremely vocal, but I will say things when guys need to step it up. I try to be an example to the younger guys by leading in practice. It is my role to work hard on every single play, so that younger guys or anyone watching can see that you are supposed to work hard on every play.”

Speck grew up in a small town in the state of Texas, where football is huge. It was there he adopted his love for football and his work ethic that would carry over into his Tiger football career.

During his junior year under the influence of his coach, Speck started thinking about his career in college football. In high school, Speck was a member of the football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and track teams.

He remembers after making the decision to play college football his junior year staying after practice to better himself. “After track practice every day, Coach would stay afterwards and we would throw around and do agility drill to try to get better. He instilled a hard work ethic in me.”

The work ethic that was instilled throughout his junior year carried over to his senior year when he moved from Texas to Tennessee. Since most of his recruiting had gone on in Texas, he had to work much harder because he had moved. His senior year after making a highlight video to send to schools around Tennessee, he traveled to Clemson, South Carolina on his recruiting trip. It was then that he fell in love with the small town and big time football atmosphere.

The signing class of 1997 included players such as Robert Carswell, Rod Gardner, Charles Hafley, and Will Merritt. Along with Speck and other signees, the 2000 senior class made a decision the day they reported in 1997 to turn the football program around.

Speck signed as a free safety along with Carswell. Since that year they have not only been teammates, but friends. “Robert and I were in the same recruiting class and we room with each other on the road. To this day we both push each other to work harder and be competitive.”

Playing behind Carswell has pushed Speck to become a competitive football player. Each day in practice he prepares himself as if he were a starter, but he also knows that one of his big roles on the Tiger football team is on special teams.

“I want to work as hard as I possibly can to play my role on this team,” said Speck. “I love special teams, especially the kickoff team, it is my favorite snap of the game.”

Some athletes have superstitions such as putting their uniforms on a particular way or many athletes listen to heavy music before a game. Speck’s pregame includes listening to music by contemporary Christian singer Michael W. Smith. He lies on the floor of the locker room before the coaches arrive and listens to the motivational church music and then prays hard for about 20-25 minutes before the game starts.

“The music and prayers help me calm down and get my focus on the game. It also reminds me that the talents I have are from God and I want to go out there and play for His glory.”

Since arriving in Tigertown, Speck has been a member of two Peach Bowl teams. His sophomore year the team did not make a bowl game. While at home over Christmas break of that season he met his fianc, Rachel Fletcher. Fletcher is a senior at the University of Tennessee. Speck and Fletcher plan to get married next summer after both have graduated.

In the spring Speck, a three-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll, will graduate with a degree in Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Management with an emphasis in Sport Management. Speck was blessed with the ability to discipline himself and manage his time wisely so he could bear down and get assignments done. Throughout his academic career he has accumulated a 3.84 career GPA. Speck has aspirations of going to law school, but also has dreams of one day coaching.

Wide Receiver coach Rick Stockstill believes that Speck will succeed in anything he does in life. “He has been a role model both on and off the field. He is going to be successful in everything he does because how hard he works and how dedicated he is in everything he does. We are lucky to have had him a part of our football program,” said Stockstill.

Although Speck will always remember the spectacular play from the 1998 Peach Bowl and the atmosphere here in Death Valley on home games, his most memorable moment here will always be the bond and closeness that this season’s team shares.

“This team is the closest we have had since I have been at Clemson. I will always remember, the time spent with these guys working hard, blood, sweat, and tears for four years to get to the point we are at now,” said Speck.

The record books will always hold the memory of the touchdown at the 1998 Peach Bowl, but Chad Speck will be remembered by friends, teammates, and coaches as a model student-athlete who was an instrumental part of Clemson University for four years both on and off the football field.