CLEMSON — Busy week for John Simpson and his family.
Clemson’s senior guard made The Associated Press All-America team on Monday.
The Fort Dorchester High School graduate met with the media Tuesday as part of the Tigers’ on-campus Fiesta Bowl Media Day ahead of their Dec. 28 College Football Playoff semifinal date with Ohio State.
Simpson will take part in Clemson’s December graduation exercises Thursday.
“It’s been like a dream come true,” Simpson said Tuesday.
That goes for his mother, too.
Keyonna Snipe deserves her own All-America honors for driving across almost all of America to see her son play football.
Snipe traveled via asphalt to the 2016 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
And the 2018 Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Next stop: Arizona, again.
A rented Chevy Suburban is scheduled to depart North Charleston on Christmas Eve with six proud family members bound for metro Phoenix.
Mapquest says it’s 2,170 miles between the Simpson house and State Farm Stadium in Glendale. That’s a 31-hour drive, if you miss rush hour in Atlanta and there isn’t much roadwork going on in Mississippi.
Or 4,340 miles on the road for the holidays.
And you thought that over-the-river and through-the-woods jaunt was taxing.
John Simpson has one national championship ring and wants another.
His mom wants decent highway weather.
“Usually the guys do all the driving,” Snipe said Tuesday. “I haven’t driven on these trips yet, but I’m going to drive some this time and we can split up the driving among four drivers.”
Included on the travel roster: another John Simpson, John’s grandfather; Marvin Snipe, Keyonna’s uncle; Jayden Simpson, John’s 12-year-old brother.
“I just think it’s great,” Simpson said of his support group. “Having my mom and my family at the games means so much.”
Cisco and Sweetwater
They don’t have to drive; the College Football Playoff gives the family of each player $2,500 in travel expenses and six tickets for each game. But Snipe dislikes flying.
“With that money or not, I’m going to find a way to see my son play football,” Snipe said, “no matter where they play.”
Preliminary stopover plan: “Somewhere in Texas,” she said.
It will take a long day just to cross The Lone Star State, 813 not extremely scenic miles from Texarkana to El Paso via Cisco, Sweetwater and Colorado City.
That Grandpa Simpson is a veteran truck driver is a key plus.
“He’s always telling us about all the different states and all the scenery,” Snipe said. “He knows some interesting places to stop. It turns into a real long field trip. It’s fun.”
Snipe packs a cooler with drinks, sandwich meat, bread and chips.
“Jayden has to have his sweets,” she said.
One more Clemson drive
This is Simpson’s senior year at Clemson, but Keyonna Snipe might be in for a lot more football-related driving. Her 6-4, 330-pound son is widely projected as a top NFL prospect headed for selection within the first two rounds of the 2020 draft.
First, there’s Thursday’s graduation.
Simpson will receive a degree in sociology.
It seems like just yesterday he was helping Fort Dorchester win a state championship and working at Halls Chophouse on King Street.
“Oh, my gosh. It’s awesome,” Snipe said. “I still can’t believe it. He was an 18-year-old boy and now he’s a man. Being that he’s been able to play football and do all the things he’s had to do to get his degree, I’m just very, very proud.”
And in the grand context of a trip to Grand Canyon country, one more drive to Clemson doesn’t seem very long.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff