Note: The following appears in the Texas A&M gameday football program.
Former Tiger C.J. Spiller was famous for doing things that had not been done when he was a star triple-threat running back from 2006-09.
Here are a few of his accomplishments that still stand as standards in the Clemson football history book:
During the 2009 season, Spiller totaled 2,680 all-purpose yards, still the ACC record. He was named ACC MVP, a unanimous first-team All-American and finished sixth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. From a team standpoint, he led the Tigers to their first ACC Atlantic Division title, a significant step in Clemson’s climb to its current status as one of the top programs in the country.
Now, he is establishing standards off the field. This year, Spiller was named to the IPTAY Board of Directors, the first former Clemson All-American in any sport to be named. He is by far the most prominent former athlete elected.
“I am excited about the addition of C.J. Spiller to the IPTAY Board of Directors,” said IPTAY CEO Davis Babb. “I believe that C.J. brings immense knowledge and a great perspective to our IPTAY Board of Directors. I am looking forward to working with C.J. in the months and years ahead.”
Spiller was chosen from a diverse list of candidates, and his initial two-year term began on July 1.
From a personal standpoint, I can’t think of anyone better for this position or more deserving than Spiller, who has been one of the top “faces of the program” as an active and former student-athlete since the day he stepped foot on the Clemson campus in 2006.
Fans came to Tiger football games during his career just to see what he would do next. It did not matter against whom Clemson was playing. That is one of the traits of a transcendent athlete.
No one was more gracious with his time among Clemson people, young or old. I remember near the end of his senior year, fans would line up outside the fence at the practice field waiting for his autograph.
After a December practice and after he had done interviews with the media, I said to all within ear shot, “Would the 10 children in the upstate of South Carolina who don’t have C.J. Spiller’s autograph on a Christmas present please come forward.”
He accepted that responsibility of representing Clemson with grace from the time he was a freshman, and he continued to represent the institution through his NFL career, and now beyond.
It just comes naturally to him.
After his last game, at the Music City Bowl in Nashville, he was named MVP and was interviewed by ESPN’s Holly Rowe. He had been battling injuries all year, but he still managed to score a touchdown in every game and led the Tigers to a top-25 final ranking.
Rowe asked him why he played so hard in this bowl game and risked injury as he prepared for the NFL draft.
“Because I love Clemson so much,” was his immediate response.
In this day and age when some players are bailing on their teams the second half of seasons and in bowl games, it is a refreshing story.
When I retired, there were speakers at my retirement party, and Spiller spoke as the representative of all the former Clemson athletes. I could not have been more honored to have him as the representative of that large group.