National Signing Day was the fulfillment of a longtime dream for Will Swinney.
Swinney, the son of Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney, signed his letter of intent to become a Tiger during a signing day ceremony last week at Daniel High School.
“I was kind of shaking a little bit signing the paper because it was just hard to really believe that was happening,” Will Swinney said.
Kathleen Swinney, Will’s mother and Dabo’s wife, described the moment as “unbelievably special.”
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“Will has worked so hard, not only athletically, but academically,” Kathleen Swinney said. “He is one of the hardest workers I know and I’m just so proud. And just the fact that he’s going to get to be 3 miles down the road and play for his dad is a dream come true for all of us.”
Although he is the coach’s son, Will insists he had to earn his opportunity to join the team as a preferred walk-on. His dad told him he earned that spot after his junior year at Daniel, when he caught 33 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns.
Will caught 48 passes for 603 yards and six scores as a senior, and received interest from multiple smaller schools, including Newberry and Western Carolina. He thought about taking one of those offers. Dabo, who played at Alabama as a walk-on, said he didn’t try to push Will in one direction or the other.
If Will’s last name wasn’t Swinney, he probably wouldn’t be playing at Clemson. While he probably won’t see significant playing time at wide receiver as a freshman, he still has a shot at playing right away.
Following the departures of Seth Ryan and Andy Teasdall, Clemson is in need of a new holder. Will was the holder at Daniel, and his sure-handedness catching the ball could make him a strong candidate for the position.
“It’s not often you lose your first- and second-team holder in the same year, because we’ve been pretty solid right there, so I’m thankful that he’s got five years of good experience doing that,” Dabo said.
Adding his son to the roster continues a trend of Dabo’s teams signing players whose fathers have Clemson connections. J.D. and Judah Davis, Michael Batson and D.J. Greenlee are all sons of current Clemson staffers. Brian Dawkins Jr., Cannon Smith, Will Spiers, Amir Trapp and Kanyon Tuttle are sons of former Clemson football players.
Will chose Clemson to play for his dad, but he wants to prove his spot on the team is no charity. Will believes he is capable of becoming a difference-maker for the Tigers.
“At the end of the day, I’m just another player on the team, and I’m just going to do my very best to help the team win in whatever way I can,” Will said. “I know I have a lot of work to do, but my whole life, I’ve excelled in (football), so I believe I can do the same in college. I just got to work hard and do my best at it.”