At 6-5, 270, Corey Crawford is hard to miss on the football field.
But as he dropped into coverage Saturday night as Clemson executed a zone blitz, Crawford was the last person on Aaron Murray's mind.
Until he suddenly turned up in the path of the football.
Crawford's first thought: "I've gotta catch it."
The Tigers' junior defensive end let one slip away in last season's opener against Auburn. "I missed a lot of opportunities last year," he said.
Not this time.
Crawford grabbed the football and took off on a long return that ended up partially negated by a teammate's illegal block.
But what was most important was that the Tigers squashed a Georgia threat and regained the football at a critical point in the game.
Late in the second quarter, with the score tied 21-21 and Clemson trying to build on a momentum swing, the Tiger defense stopped Georgia with a quick three-and-out, forcing a punt from the Bulldogs' 26. Sammy Watkins muffed the punt-catch, however, and Georgia recovered at the Clemson 30.
The Bulldogs looked to strike on the next play, but the plan was foiled by Crawford's interception. Clemson regained possession, and the first half ended uneventfully.
"We brought a little zone pressure there and we were able to drop him back, and the quarterback didn't see him," said Dabo Swinney. "Quarterbacks are geared to looking for safeties, how they're inserted, on the hash, off the hash, middle field, open field, closed. Then all of a sudden, he just sort of snuck in there. His read took him there, and Corey made a great play to finish it."
His reaction and his run showed his athleticism, Swinney said.
"Corey is a really good athlete - he probably could have played college basketball," Swinney said. "He's a guy who's still developing. He started for the first time last year and got better and better. He's a very conscientious player and he runs well.
"He made a nice athletic play like that last year against Maryland, when he knocked the ball loose and picked it up and scored. He's become a very good leader for us."