18-year-old arrested in Howard’s Rock vandalism

dprice@thestate.comJune 28, 2013 

— Micah Rogers’ white 1993 Ford F-250 pickup has a Clemson sticker, his Pisgah Forest, N.C., home has Clemson memorabilia and his Facebook page has a picture of Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.

Hardly the guy Clemson fans thought would be charged with vandalizing the school’s iconic Howard’s Rock.

But Clemson University police accuse the 18-year-old of jumping a fence at Memorial Stadium’s Gate 2, breaking the rock’s case and chipping off a chunk of the stone during the night of June 2.

The missing piece of Howard’s Rock — the centerpiece of the Tigers’ pre-game ritual dubbed as “The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football” — has not been recovered.

Rogers was charged Friday with felony malicious injury to property in excess of $2,000 but less than $10,000 and unlawful entry to a public place. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and possible fines, Clemson Police Capt. Eric Hendricks said. He was released on $5,470 bond.

Hendricks asked Clemson fans not to take the law into their own hands.

“With all the passion of Howard’s Rock and the high emotion behind this, I want to remind everyone to let the criminal justice system handle this,” he said.

Rogers is not a Clemson student and has no ties to the Upstate school, Hendricks said. Pisgah Forest is about an hour-and-a-half north of Clemson in Transylvania County.

As for whether his Clemson sticker and memorabilia meant he was a Tigers fan, the officer told reporters to “draw their own conclusions.”

A Clemson fan being accused of damaging the rock players touch while running down the hill at Memorial Stadium before kickoff was hardly the prevailing theory this month.

Conventional wisdom held that Howard’s Rock was retaliation for someone painting an orange tiger paw on the field of archrival University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium.

Gamecock fans crowed on social media about how damage to the rock named after former Clemson coach Frank Howard appeared to be an inside job.

“Too good for words,” state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, a Charleston Democrat who graduated from USC law school, tweeted.

Few details of the Howard’s Rock vandalism were released Friday because Hendricks said the investigation is ongoing.

Witnesses identified a suspect and the truck from surveillance footage taken outside the stadium, he said.

Police are looking into other people thought to have been involved, and officers could make additional arrests.

If the missing chunk of Howard’s Rock is found, university officials are unsure whether they would attempt to reattach it to the rest of the stone.

The stone, originally from Death Valley, Calif., was placed on a pedestal at Memorial Stadium in 1966 and when the team ran by the stone for the first time late that year, Howard told his players “Give me 110 percent or keep your filthy hands off my rock.”

Reach Price at (803) 771-8376. Reach Shain at (803) 771-8619.

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