CLEMSON – C.J. Davidson always wanted to be a Clemson football player, growing up in the area and going to games.
He even got a pretty good look from the Tigers out of Daniel High School as a running back; but at the same time, they had a five-star pledge in Mike Bellamy, and the Clemson coaches were upfront with Davidson about that.
An Independent Mail track athlete of the year, as well, Davidson turned down an offer from TCU to play both sports and instead picked the Tigers’ track program, but with eyes on walking on in football – a dream but not necessarily a reality.
“I knew that I wanted to walk on, but I didn’t know that it was actually going to happen,” he said. “Once I finished my track career I decided I was going to give it a try.”
Davidson always wanted to play Clemson football
Davidson's track career was short-lived after he suffered a lower abdominal injury in his first season that hampered his long jump and triple jump abilities. Davidson took it as a sign that football was in his future.
By NCAA rules, he was going to have to drop his track scholarship with no guarantees he could pick up a football one, but after a year on the scout team and a strong off-season, he was able to secure just that recently.
“It feels pretty good,” Davidson said, who led the Tigers with 13 carries for 63 yards against S.C. State Saturday. “Just being able to be a two-sport athlete at the Division I level is a blessing in itself. I’m just trying to take advantage of everything I can and embrace the moment.”
Coming from track, he gets the “speed back” label; but he says that’s not all his game.
“I feel like with my demeanor – I do have speed – that I can run between the tackles,” Davidson said. “I’m not scared to lower my shoulder.”
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris says the coaches know what they have when the ball is in Davidson's hands, but they’re working on the rest now.
“The thing C.J. has to work on in his first season of college football essentially is knowing what to do with the ball not in his hands,” Morris said. “You can’t have a missed assignment in pass protection, because if you do you find No. 10 is lying on the ground. He’s got to work at getting at the overall knowledge of the offense.”
Joining a host of Daniel products in orange – and he was heavily recruited by those former teammates, like DeAndre Hopkins – Davidson is committed to that improvement.
“Clemson is all I know. Coming to the games, I knew what it felt like to be a spectator,” Davidson said. “I wanted to feel it for myself. I knew I wanted to play football eventually, and when the opportunity came, I was ready.”
Hopper named ACC rookie of the week: Redshirt freshman Germone Hopper had to wait 14 games before making his first catch, but once he broke through – he broke through.
Hopper earned ACC rookie of the week after totaling six catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns versus S.C. State.
His offensive coordinator was just as impressed with what he did without the ball.
“He played physical,” said Morris. “That was really good to see. I’ll make a point to that to show some of his physical blocking (to the team). We’re leaving so many yards and opportunities for big plays out on the field because we’re not blocking and being physical enough on the outside.
“He came in with some physical-ness and that was good to see.”