Clemson running back Adam Choice has been thinking about former teammate C.J. Fuller since the moment he received the news that Fuller died Wednesday night.
Choice took the field Saturday afternoon at Wake Forest with a heavy heart and with one thought on his mind: represent Fuller and what he stood for.
“C.J. was a fearless player. He played hard. He gave it everything he had. We wanted to embody what he stood for today when we stepped out on the field,” Choice said. “Today it just felt like we needed to do it a little bit more for him, just to show that we appreciate him and what he taught us.”
Choice and the rest of the Clemson running backs put together one of the most impressive rushing performances in school history against Wake Forest with Fuller squarely on their minds.
The Tigers totaled 471 rushing yards in a dominant 63-3 victory. The 471 yards are the most for Clemson since 1981 and the fourth-most in school history.
“We wanted to play for him and get the W for him,” Clemson running back Travis Etienne said. “When I first came in he kind of took me under his wing… He really came in and got me to where I am.”
Etienne, a sophomore, spent only one year with Fuller at Clemson before Fuller decided he was going to transfer following the 2017 season.
But Fuller made a big impression on Etienne during the one season the two spent together.
“He just had an overall impact on the whole team. To have that happen it’s just sad,” Etienne said. “It just opens up your eyes and makes you realize that anything can happen and just find joy in the moment.”
Etienne was one of three Clemson running backs to rush for 100 yards against the Demon Deacons, finishing with 167 and three scores on only 10 carries.
Freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon was right behind Etienne with 10 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Dixon only interacted with Fuller during recruiting trips but has heard plenty about the former Easley star from his Clemson teammates.
“It was special because we were doing it for C.J. We’re just going to keep striving on through the whole season, keep working hard in practice and keep the streak going,” Dixon said. “You can’t take life for granted. We know he’s in a better place right now.”
Choice had the best day of his career, finishing with 128 yards and a touchdown.
All three backs had touchdown runs of at least 60 yards.
“We lost a brother and we felt like this was a great way to honor him by the way we played today. We thought we represented him and what he stood for well,” Choice said. “His impact through us, he’ll live on through us and everything that we do.”
Tigers running backs coach Tony Elliott, who said he viewed Fuller like a son, could not have been more proud of the way his group performed and honored Fuller.
“What you saw tonight was a group of guys that were inspired,” Elliott said. “It’s a tough week. For those who know me they know how I feel about my guys. They’re like my sons… That’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is to kiss one of my sons goodbye. My heart goes out to his family.”