Note: The following appears in the Louisville gameday football program
As one of the top college football programs in the country, Clemson is no stranger to the NFL draft. But while many college athletes dream of continuing on to careers in professional sports, it is not always a reality.
No one knows this reality better than Clemson graduate offensive lineman Pat Godfrey, who plans to return to his home state of New York with an MBA and a budding career on Wall Street in the Big Apple.
Growing up on Long Island, Godfrey developed a passion for college football and a dream of playing in the frenzied South.
“It’s more like religion than fandom here. I wanted to know what it was all about. I would turn on the television and watch Clemson run down the Hill, so Clemson became the quintessential big, Southern football school to me. It was a dream to play in that kind of atmosphere.”
After enrolling at Clemson, his next challenge was walking on to a team with a reputation for competition and success. Godfrey wasted no time in corresponding with director of operations Mike Dooley about trying out for the team. As one of over 100 other student-athletes looking to gain a place on the squad, he was chosen as one of four players who met the standards the Tiger coaches were looking for.
“Everyone is very competitive, everyone goes to class and everyone takes care of their business on the field. If you don’t meet those standards, you’re not going to make it.”
Those core values are what has bolstered his achievements on the field and in the MBA program, and it has also prepared him for his future in the grueling world of finance and investment banking.
“A 40-hour week is not a daunting idea to me. I’ve been going through 50 or 60-hour weeks between school, football and other endeavors since I started college. It has taught me how to compete every single day.
“Coach (Dabo) Swinney makes us go through competition in practice because that’s how we get better. I’m not afraid to go out there and compete in order to be the very best I can be in all aspects of my life.”
But after earning a scholarship and serving on the kickoff-return unit in 2017, Godfrey was forced to come to terms with a difficult reality heading into his final season after tearing his labrum and learning that it would require him to undergo career-ending surgery. Even after suffering the devastating injury, his drive to support the team never wavered. As a student assistant, Godfrey looks to find new ways to contribute.
“When I was on the team, it was very easy to see my impact every week. Now, I try to have an impact when I’m coaching by mentoring some of the younger walk-ons. I want to show them the ropes of how to come through this program and make a big impact as well as what it looks like to be a hard worker and a model player.”
Godfrey has not only been able to transition into a coaching capacity, he also commutes an hour each way to attend MBA classes in Greenville every week.
“I look around my classroom and the average age is around 35 years old. I see these people coming after work and grinding, and it puts me at ease to know that I’m going to be done with all of it by the time I’m 22.”
As a result of his commitment to academics, Godfrey plans to receive his MBA from Clemson in 2019 and aspires to advance into a career in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan.
“Being from New York, it’s always been a dream of mine to work on Wall Street. I’m hoping that with the help of my Clemson degrees, it’s going to happen next year. Not all of us are going to have an NFL career, but if you take care of business right now, all of us have the opportunity to have an incredible future.”