Sapakoff: A tale of two Clemson QBs

The pair of fifth-year quarterbacks got to walk down The Hill at Death Valley one final last time. They hugged their parents on Senior Day, and went their separate ways.

Tajh Boyd wore an orange helmet Saturday, threw five more touchdown passes and broke more records in No. 7 Clemson’s 52-6 rout of The Citadel.

Donny McElveen wore a white baseball cap, fancy headset and black bib — the tools of a skilled sideline quarterback. The Summerville High School graduate has been offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ unofficial, unpaid (but not underappreciated) player-coach for three years now.

“The more I learn about the offense,” McElveen said, “the more trust they have in me.”

Oh, lots of trust.

Boyd: “He’s a Hall of Fame coach in the making. He knows as much about our offense as Chad Morris does.”

Morris: “Donny is going to make a great coach. He and I talk about that all the time. I’m excited to watch his future.”

McKissick’s grandson

Coaching is in McElveen’s blood. His grandfather is legendary John McKissick, the 87-year-old Summerville coach who keeps extending his national victories record (613 and counting).

“I’ve always wanted to be a coach, that’s one of the reasons I came to Clemson; I knew that would help prepare me,” McElveen said. “I want to coach in college. High school is great, but since I got here I’ve found that college football is my true love and it’s made me want to coach in college more than anything else.”

McElveen monitored Summerville’s playoff game Friday night, another McKissick win, 29-28 over Boiling Springs, thanks to David Kennedy’s 35-yard field goal as time expired and a bunch of clutch plays by other guys. On to the Division I-AAAA semifinals against Sumter.

Life is good for Donny McElveen.

He received a Clemson degree in Travel & Tourism last May.

For three years, he has been dating Katie Barnes, Clemson’s 2012 homecoming queen.

His parents, Donny and Cindy McElveen, were on the field before the game.

“It was a dream come true to see my parents at the bottom of the hill to greet me on Senior Day,” McElveen said.

He is not afraid to make suggestions to Morris during games.

“Coach Morris really knows what he wants to do,” McElveen said. “But if I see something, yes, I’ll communicate it.”

On to Columbia

The 6-2, 205-pound quarterback took eight snaps in 2010 and four in 2012. But he hadn’t played this year.

Until capping a swell Saturday by taking the field with 1:49 remaining. McElveen provided six handoffs to Jay Jay McCullough, and then took a knee.

“It’s always fun when you get an opportunity to go in and play, especially my last year here in Death Valley,” McElveen said.

There is one more game in South Carolina for Clemson’s two fifth-year quarterbacks. Both of them will try to snap the Gamecocks’ four-game win streak in the series.

Boyd on the field.

McElveen on the sidelines, a coach dressed in full pads.

“Donny is so valuable to our program,” Morris said, “more valuable than anyone really knows.”



Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff

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