CLEMSON — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn’t have a scholarship to offer tight end Stanton Seckinger when he was a senior at Porter-Gaud High School.
But Swinney knew he wanted Seckinger in a Clemson uniform.
The former Porter-Gaud star turned in the signature play of his young Clemson career --catching a 9-yard touchdown pass, in Clemson’s 38-35 victory over fifth-ranked Georgia Saturday night at Death Valley.
Early in the recruiting process, Swinney ran out of scholarships and offered Seckinger a “grayshirt” which meant that the Isle of Palms native could enroll in January and instead of the fall semester.
But a scholarship became available and Swinney immediately offered it to Seckinger.
“We didn’t have a spot for him when he came and I knew we had to figure out a way to get him one,” Swinney said. “Things ended up working out and he’s turned out to be exactly what I thought he’d be, a great football player. “He’s worked very hard, he’s up to around 230 pounds and he’s a young football player that’s only going to get better.”
Seckinger played sparingly last season and caught a total of four passes for 35 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s been a big transition going from high school to college,” Seckinger said. “The biggest thing was the adjustment to the speed of the game here. It took me a little while to adjust to that, but tonight I feel like the hard work is starting to pay off.”
This year he’s listed as the backup to Darrell Smith, but was used extensively against Georgia.
Seckinger, a redshirt sophomore, scored a touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Tajh Boyd in the fourth quarter. At first, game officials ruled that Seckinger had stepped out of bounds before he’d gotten into the end zone, but eventually the call was overturned.
“It was a frustrating two minutes because I knew I had scored,” Seckinger said. “I knew my foot was in bounds as soon as I turned toward the end zone.”
He also had a 17-yard reception on the Tigers’ fourth play from scrimmage to pick up a first down.
McDowell waits his turn
Clemson running back Roderick McDowell has waited patiently for his time.
McDowell, a fifth-year senior, has waited for his opportunity to get on the field. He sat behind Jamie Harper, C.J. Spiller and Andre Ellington waiting his chance to get on the field.
McDowell rushed for a team-high 132 yards in the Tigers victory.
“We’ve had some great running backs and Roderick just continued to work and get better and he never pouted,” Swinney said. “I thought he was great tonight. Hot Rod can run. He could outside a couple of times and really showed what he’s capable of doing.”
McDowell said he never doubted that his time would come.
“I knew if I continued to put the work in, good things were going to happen for me,” McDowell said. “I knew who we had at running back and I knew if I was patience things would work out and they have.”
Tigers’ sack attack
A year ago, the Clemson defense was ranked in the top 25 nationally in three different categories — sacks, red zone defense and third-down conversions.
While Clemson’s defense had some issues against No. 5 Georgia Saturday night in the red zone and on third down, the Tigers were able to get consistent pressure on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
The eight-ranked Tigers, who recorded 34 sacks last season, got to Murray four times Saturday night. Vic Beasley, who led the Tigers with eight sacks last season, had two against Georgia.
Tramel expected to redshirt
Georgia wide receiver Tramel Terry, a former Goose Creek High School star, did not play against Clemson and said he’ll most likely redshirt this season.
Terry, who suffered a knee injury during last year’s Shrine Bowl, enrolled at Georgia in January in hopes of playing as a true freshman.
Terry was cleared to play during the preseason, but bruised the same knee during a scrimmage two weeks ago.
“It’s frustrating to sit out a year, but it is what it is,” Terry said before the game. “I know we’ve got a lot of great wide receivers on this team. I’ll get healthy, learn the offense better and be ready to go when next season starts.”
A year ago, Terry was the 19th-ranked wide receiver in the country and the No. 5 overall prospect in the state, according to Rivals.com.
Ring of Honor
Clemson inducted former head football coach Danny Ford and former baseball coach Bill Wilhelm into the school’s Ring of Honor during a pre-game ceremony.
Ford, who was the Tigers’ coach from 1978-89, compiled a 96-29-4 mark with Clemson. He led the Tigers to the 1981 national title and five ACC championships.
Wilhelm, who coached at Clemson for 36 years from 1958-93, won 1,161 games and 19 ACC championships, nine tournament crowns and six trips to the College World Series.
Clemson cornerback Martin Jenkins separating his shoulder after breaking up a deep pass, and departed to the locker room with trainers.
His status was unknown, leaving Darius Robinson, Garry Peters and Bashaud Breeland to handle duties at cornerback.
Starting safety Robert Smith was injured late in the third quarter and was taken directly to the locker room. Smith, who suffered from cramps, returned to the game.
Taylor Watson, a junior, played in place of Smith.
At least five Clemson true freshmen made their playing debut and will not redshirt.
Shaq Lawson (defensive end) and Korrin Wiggins (nickel) were part of a deep defensive rotation. Ben Boulware, C.J. Davidson and Cordrea Tankersley participated in special teams coverage.
On target with Sammy
Sammy Watkins recorded his eighth 100-yard game, with the help of his career-best 77-yard touchdown grab. His previous long was 65 yards.
In the house
Saturday’s attendance of 83,830 is Death Valley’s biggest crowd in a non-South Carolina game since 2001.
‘Dawgs big plays
Georgia, which was third in the country in plays of 20 yards or more in 2012, had five plays of at least 19 yards in its first 24 snaps. Clemson’s defense was 109th in the category last fall.
Clemson's Stanton Seckinger dives into the end zone for a fourth quarter touchdown against Georgia during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)×