Clemson’s special senior class received one final sendoff Saturday afternoon as the Tigers celebrated their second national title in three years with a parade and stadium celebration.
Approximately 50,000 fans were on hand for the special occasion. The gates to Memorial Stadium opened at 7 a.m. and fans piled into the stands while a replay of the national title game played on the video board. A parade started in downtown Clemson and finished at the top of the hill at Death Valley as the streets were slammed with cheering fans who watched as Dabo Swinney and other members of Clemson’s coaching staff rode by atop cars.
Clemson’s six permanent captains – Christian Wilkins, Hunter Renfrow, Kendall Joseph, Mitch Hyatt, Clelin Ferrell and Adam Choice were paired up and also rode atop cars, while the rest of the team and support staff rode atop floats. Wilkins sat beside Renfrow with a cigar in his mouth as Clemson players, coaches and support staff soaked in the moment.
“It was amazing. The route was awesome coming down the hill and looking at the stadium. It’s cold. It’s early. And people just having a blast. It’s just so cool to be able to celebrate with our fans, because not everybody can go out to California. It’s a long way to go,” Swinney said. “So for everybody to kind of have a chance to get here and be a part of it, and then for our team to be able experience the appreciation of our fans is just special. It’s what it’s all about.”
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The day was reminiscent of Clemson’s national title celebration following the 2016 season in a lot of ways.
There was once again a parade and once again 10s of thousands of people greeted the Tigers at Death Valley.
Members of Clemson’s athletic department, Swinney and players spoke before the Tigers basketball team hosted Virginia, just as it did two years ago.
“This is kind of what we do on a January Saturday in Clemson, South Carolina,” Tigers Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich said.
The one big difference between the 2018 celebration as opposed to the 2016 celebration was that this time the Tigers were celebrating a perfect 15-0 season.
The leaders of Clemson’s team set a goal before the season to be the best team in school history. After the Tigers became the first team in modern FBS history to go 15-0, Swinney believe the Tigers accomplished their goal.
“The 2018 team is the best ever. Drop the mic, the best ever. And they have set a standard for all future teams,” Swinney said.
While Swinney is thrilled about what Clemson accomplished in 2018, he is also excited for what lies ahead. The 2019 spring game will be held April 6, and Swinney is already planning out next year’s journey.
“I am so happy that we get a chance to have this joyful moment with you,” Swinney said to the crowd. “But understand, the best is yet to come.”