Luke Kuechly likes grass.
The kind you play football on.
"I'm kind of a nerd for that stuff," Kuechly told the crowd at The Post and Courier's second annual CHARLEYS awards show Thursday night at the Charleston Music Hall.
Kuechly, the star linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, was reminiscing about his first college game at Clemson's Death Valley. He was then a wide-eyed freshman at Boston College.
"They had some dudes on their sideline like I'd never seen before," said Kuechly, the featured speaker guest at the CHARLEYS. "But the thing that really surprised me at that place was how nice the grass was.
"There's nothing better than a really nice playing surface, like a really nice golf course or a really nice field. It feels good, it's soft, you put your cleats in the ground and the roots of the grass crunch. It was really fun."
Kuechly shared insights about playing with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the loudest stadiums in the NFL and the prospect of facing quarterback Kyler Murray, the first pick (by Arizona) in Thursday night's NFL Draft.
The other star of the CHARLEYS show was former College of Charleston basketball coach John Kresse, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kresse, 76, won a school-record 560 games and led the Cougars to four NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT berths during his 23 seasons at the school. Kresse also won an NAIA national championship in 1983.
Other awards presented Thursday night:
• The Dynamic Duo award went to Hanahan High School's Cooper Dawson and Kingsley Feinman. Dawson, the Hawk's standout defensive end, included his friend Kingsley in a heart-warming announcement when Dawson signed with Syracuse.
• Clutch Performer of the Year went to South Carolina kicker Parker White from Wando High School.
• The Play by Play Voice of the year award sent to College of Charleston basketball announcer Everett German.
• Clemson team manager David Saville was named Super Bowl fan of the year. Saville, who has Down's syndrome, went to the Super Bowl after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney surprised him with tickets to the big game.
• Top-ranked junior player Emma Navarro was named the Rising Tennis Star of the year.
• The Golden Hire of the year award went to new Charleston Southern football coach Autry Denson, a former Notre Dame standout and assistant coach.
• The South Carolina Stingrays were honored for their annual Teddy Bear Toss promotion.
• Player Most Worthy of a Billboard went to Clemson lineman John Simpson, who was indeed honored by a billboard in North Charleston after helping the Tigers to the national title.
• The High School Club Team of the Year is Wando's rugby team.
• The Hometown Hero award went to Burke High School graduate Raven Saunders, a five-time NCAA champ in the shot put and a 2016 Olympian.
• Porter-Gaud basketball standouts Josiah James and Aaron Nesmith were honored as best teammates.
• Former South Carolina football standout Langston Moore was named Super Sideline Reporter.
• The Halftime Score of the Year award went to The Citadel's football team, which tied No. 1 Alabama by 10-10 at the half of last season's game.
• Best Soccer Player is Summerville's Jonathan Amon, who plays for the U.S. Men's National Team.
• Hungriest Clemson player? That would be Matt Bockhorst, who went viral with his platter full of burgers when the Tigers visited the White House.