As a construction science and management major, Greg Huegel appreciates the beauty and intricacies of buildings.
So while Huegel and his Clemson football teammates toured the White House last month after winning the national title, the Blythewood native was studying the details of the more than 200-year-old building.
“How every single room ties together and keeps everything consistent, design wise, for how long it has been around. It is amazing,” Huegel said. “It was a phenomenal experience.”
On Tuesday, Huegel told the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce about the White House experience, winning a national title and his journey from a walk-on kicker to setting Clemson’s single-season scoring record.
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Huegel told how he tried out twice at camps but the Tigers were set on kickers. But when Ammon Lakip was suspended in the summer before 2015 season, special teams coach Danny Pearman called Huegel and told him to come to fall camp. There was no guarantee of a spot on the team, so Huegel had to win over his teammates and coaching staff. He said head coach Dabo Swinney didn’t even know his name when he attempted a 47-yard field in practice.
“Swinney looked at me and said, ‘Who are you? I’ve never seen you before. You must be our new kicker,’ ” Huegel recalled.
Huegel drilled the kick.
It’s safe to say Swinney won’t forget Huegel after his past two seasons. He had a school-record 138 points as a freshman and 113 last year while racking up various accolades.
Huegel also recovered the onside kick to seal the Tigers’ win over Alabama in this year’s national title game. He said the original play called for a squib kick but veteran players convinced Swinney to onside it.
“It’s surreal and a blessing. Working my way up from the bottom, being able to go to White House, recover an onside kick in national championship and play in two national championship games. I can’t wrap my mind around it,” Huegel said. “I don’t know if I will be able to wrap my mind around it in the future.”
Huegel said the Clemson coaching staff and players have been doing a good job in the offseason making sure the Tigers aren’t complacent when official practice begins Aug. 1.
In addition to the workouts and classes this summer, Huegel helped organize a service trip to Haiti, along with 15 teammates and other members of the staff and family. He visited the country on a mission trip in high school and always wanted to go back.
The group partnered with the Soles4Souls organization and handed out 450 pairs of shoes to children, some of whom walk four hours, one way, to get to school each day.
“At Clemson, we are trying to get where we go on a service trip every year,” Huegel said. “It gives you a complete change of perspective and puts in reality all the many blessings we have and things we take for granted.
“Being a player your time will eventually come to an end, but who you are as a person will stick with you for rest of your life. And being able to do things for other people, such as people in Haiti, and see the smiles on their face is all the thanks I need.”