Not long after tearing his ACL in the Orange-White spring game, redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Kelly had a conversation with his famous quarterback uncle, Jim, who’s only a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
“There’s no doubt you can come back from this,” Chad recalled Jim saying. But maybe even the former Buffalo Bills QB would be surprised at just how quickly.
Twenty one weeks on the dot from his major knee injury, Kelly returned to the field to one of the loudest cheers of the day in Death Valley.
Stoudt posts big performance
“It felt good, with it being two years since I last played,” Kelly said. “Just to get tackled again, it just felt really good to go do what I love to do.”
Kelly completed a pair of passes for 11 yards and rushed twice for six yards.
The comeback wasn’t complete without a scare, though, as Kelly limped off the field after taking a hit in the fourth quarter on a scramble. It was the same leg, but just a pinched nerve in his calf, which was partly sustained because of his knee brace.
“When he came off the field and looked at him, I hoped like everyone else in the stadium that surely it wasn’t the same leg,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “It was his calf and not his knee and actually it was his knee brace going into his calf. I was relieved.
“What an inspiration for everybody – and the crowd with the big cheer when he went out there – that was huge.”
Morris has seen the work Kelly put in to make his quick comeback, and that makes his return that much sweeter.
“This is a guy who’s worked extremely hard – both him and Sam Cooper,” Morris said. Cooper returned from the same injury and played a few snaps on Saturday. “To see those guys coming back and contributing – there’s a few passes he’d like back – but I’m proud of him. He’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Kelly says he’s ready for whatever the season has left in store.
“I feel 100 percent,” Kelly said. “I definitely am a lot quicker than I was. That’s for sure.”
Seven Tigers Make Debut: Seven scholarship players saw the first action of their careers against the Bulldogs. The group includes four more first-year freshmen - tight end Jordan Leggett, safety/nickel back Jayron Kearse, safety Jadar Johnson and wide receiver/kick returner T.J. Green.
Also playing for the first time were quarterback Chad Kelly, kicker Ammon Lakip and tight end Jay Jay McCullough.
Receivers Share The Wealth: Quarterbacks Tajh Boyd, Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly and Nick Schuessler completed 36 of 51 passes to 14 different receivers. Redshirt freshman Germone Hopper and junior Adam Humphries caught six passes each, Martavis Bryant had four, and Charone Peake, Sammy Watkins and Jay Jay McCullough caught three each.
Stanton Seckinger, Mike Williams, and C.J. Davis each had two receptions, while D.J. Howard, Jordan Leggett, Matt Porter, Rod McDowell and T.J. Green each had one.
Hopper, McCullough, Williams, Davidson, Leggett and Green had the first receptions of their careers.
Tigers In The Backfield: Clemson defenders combined for a dozen tackles for loss and three sacks. Linebacker Kellen Jones led the team with two stops behind the line of scrimmage, while Stephone Anthony and Shaq Lawson were both credited with 1.5.
Robert Smith, Grady Jarrett, Corey Crawford, Garry Peters, Martin Aiken and Carlos Watkins had one each, and Taylor Watson and D.J. Reader were each credited with 0.5.
Jones, Smith and Anthony had sacks.
Radio Booth Named In Phillips' Memory: Clemson honored former 'Voice of the Tigers' Jim Phillips during an on-field ceremony at the end of the first quarter on Saturday.
The radio booth at Memorial Stadium, Phillips' Clemson home for 35 years, was named in his honor. Phillips died suddenly in 2003, on a Monday following his broadcast of the Clemson-Furman football game.
Phillips' career spanned the Clemson careers of eight head football coaches and six head basketball coaches. He broadcast 401 Clemson football games and more than 1,000 men's basketball games, and also provided play-by-play for baseball and women's basketball.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Phillips was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992, and was a five-time recipient of the South Carolina Broadcaster of the Year award. He was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame last May.