A future Clemson head coach

Tony Elliott

Someday, when Dabo Swinney caps a sensational run by accepting the Alabama job or after an uncomfortable dismissal or two, Clemson will need a new head football coach.

A resume sent to Death Valley doesn't get much better than this:

--Played at Clemson.

--Named most popular teammate in a newspaper poll of Clemson players.

--Played in the 63-17 touchdown party at South Carolina in 2003.

--Played his final Clemson season as a graduate student with a degree in Industrial Engineering and a 3.5 grade point average.

--James Island High School graduate.

--Learned Palmetto State recruiting trails with coaching stints at South Carolina State and Furman.

--Plus a bunch of other glorious stuff to be determined.

"Oh, man that would be the ultimate dream," Furman wide receivers coach Tony Elliott said Thursday. "I think any coach that has played the game at a high level dreams about coaching at his alma mater."

This week, Elliott just wants the Paladins to perform well at South Carolina on Saturday night.

"It's definitely going to be a big challenge," Elliott said. "You can see, especially with my experience having watched South Carolina play for so many years, that they are a lot better on defense and that they seem to be playing with a tremendous effort. You look at Stephon Gilmore and everyone else they have, and this will be the best secondary our receivers will see all year."

The 63-17 game

While Furman was opening its season last week with a 45-15 pummeling of Colgate, the Gamecocks vaulted to No. 13 in The

Associated Press Top 25 poll soon after a 17-6 victory over Georgia.

Elliott, 30 and in his third year on Bobby Lamb's Furman staff, didn't get this far without storybook focus.

His mother was killed in an auto accident he witnessed. He had to help raise his younger sister. Elliott, at Clemson, went from walk-on to major contributor.

It took some chipping away to get him to talk about the 2003 game at Williams-Brice Stadium instead of Furman's 2010 game.

"The team that we played against back in '03 is totally different than the team we are going to face," he said. "When you cut the tape on, the one thing you notice is how aggressive this team is."

Not so much the Gamecocks of Nov. 22, 2003.

"It was a magical night," Elliott said, "but the way I describe it is that it lost its luster. Because whenever you prepare for a Clemson- Carolina game, you want to prepare for a 60-minute game. But it wasn't like that. By the end of that one, you had a lot of disappointed fans filing out."

A lot like Dabo

That was Elliott's last season as a Clemson wide receiver and Swinney's first as a Clemson wide receivers coach.

"I know coach Swinney is doing an outstanding job," Elliott said. "He has a lot of enthusiasm. He cares about his players, he cares about the program, he's a Christian guy. With him, he gives you no choice but to be successful."

Swinney was also a walk-on wide receiver, at Alabama.

Elliott talking about Swinney sounds like other people talking about Elliott.

Clemson head coach?

Maybe. Someday.

"I've given thought to it, and I hope it does come true one day," Elliott said. "But I have to patiently follow the path of the Lord. If it ends up at Clemson, I will be ecstatic. But to be a head coach anywhere at the college level would be a tremendous honor.

"And if it doesn't happen at Clemson, it won't be a situation where I consider my career a failure. Where I am now is a great place, and I'm learning. Hopefully, it will prepare me to be a coordinator and eventually a head coach at some point."