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Monday, September 7, 2009

Rock Hill's Meeks Contributes To Clemson Win

From My Orange Update:

Memorial Stadium

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 5: DeAndre McDaniel #2 of the Clemson Tigers stops Desmond Gee #2 of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders for a loss at Memorial Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Clemson, South Carolina. Photo by Rex Brown.

By David Hood

CLEMSON — Clemson safety Jonathan Meeks, a true freshman out of Rock Hill, SC, had no idea how much he would play in Saturday’s season opener against Middle Tennessee State, but one thing he knew for certain was that he was going to take in every moment and detail to remember later.

As it turned out, Clemson had several freshmen contribute and play in the 37-14win over the Blue Raiders along with Meeks, including running back Andre Ellington, linebacker Corico Hawkins, safety Rashard Hall and defensive lineman Malliciah Goodman. Meeks said he was sure they all were feeling the same butterflies he felt leading into the game.

“It was great,” Meeks said of his first game. “It was so different from high school, with the crowd and the atmosphere. Since we put on our suits on Friday and left campus, everything has been exciting and I have been proud to be a Clemson Tiger. The whole time -in the hotel, in meetings, running down the hill, getting dressed – it was great. I could not have asked for anything better.”

Goodman was in on one tackle, but it was Hall who made the biggest splash on the defensive side of the ball, registering 10 total tackles and earning the praise of his head coach, who said he thought all of the freshmen played well.

“We had a lot of freshmen and redshirt freshmen that played and played well,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Andre Ellington came in and showed what he can do. He is electric. And Rashard Hall had 10 tackles. We had a lot of redshirt freshmen out there, guys like Dwayne Allen that played well.

“I thought Meeks did a good job, and Malliciah was active. He lost contain one time down there, but he is going to be a special player. And Corico Hawkins got into the game. It was good for those guys to get some time under their belts and get some experience. They are just going to get better.”

Ellington stole the show on the offensive end, rushing nine times for 72 yards, second only to Jamie Harper’s 76 yards, and broke two long runs late in the game that had Death Valley buzzing over his skills.

“I felt pretty good out there, and had a great time in front of 75,000 fans,” Ellington said. “Coach Swinney told me on that last drive that we never quit, and we still had time on the clock, and that he wanted me to score. He said that they were still going to block for me, so that is why I ran so hard. But it just felt good to get in there and show what I can do. When C.J. went out, I knew I would have my chance to get in there.”

Meeks said he felt like he did some things well in his debut, but also sounded like a much older player when he said he knew he had things to work on.

“I thought I played great, did what the coaches had coached me on, and put it all together out there,” Meeks said. “I had a lot of butterflies until I ran down the hill, but after that, I was able to settle in and do what I had been coached on. But I know I need to get better at play recognition, and recognize them faster.”

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