CLEMSON — They brought footballs and foam fingers. They brought their favorite Tiger T-shirts and their cheerleading children.
Clemson football fan appreciation day
Tiger fans pack out 'Valley'
By the thousands, faithful Tigers gathered Sunday for Clemson University’s annual Fan Appreciation Day. Many waited outside Memorial Stadium more than an hour for the chance to take pictures and acquire autographs of their favorite football players and coaches.
As the lines to get in the stadium gates stretched around the block, some fans started chanting: “Never, never, never give up.”
Charlie Coons and his young son, Jackson, came from Anderson for fan day. Their foam finger drew nods of appreciation and good-natured laughs from fellow fans.
“We wanted something that would stand out,” the elder Coons said.
Stand out it did. And by the time the foam finger was passed along a line of Clemson’s defensive players, the only place left to autograph was the very tip.
Young Jackson was in awe of Shaq Lawson, the former Daniel High School standout who is now a defensive end for the Tigers.
“Do you play football?” Lawson asked the little boy.
“Baseball,” Jackson said shyly, giggling a little.
Lawson gave him a high-five.
“Wow,” Jackson said.
Back in line, Amy Manus and her three daughters waited for their chance to get autographs.
Manus and her husband Bill drove from Atlanta for Fan Appreciation Day. They are both Clemson alumni. They started their day with lunch at The Pot Belly Deli near campus.
“We might have to be here a while,” Amy Manus said as she surveyed the line.
Her daughters were all dressed in Clemson orange. Grace, who is 7, and Mary Kate, who is 4, both had on tiny cheerleader outfits. The youngest, 2-year-old Elaine, took in all the excitement from a stroller. But she, too, was in her Tiger best.
Their mother said they were hopeful they would get autographs before the gates were closed.
“My husband saw Sammy Watkins in the parking lot, so we hope that is a good omen,” she said. “We’ll wait as long as we can.”