Clemson legend C.J. Spiller joins Tigers’ coaching staff

By Matt Johnson
BART BOATWRIGHT/Staff, Greenville News, The Greenville News

Just a few years after starring in the backfield for the Clemson Tigers, former running back C.J. Spiller is now making the transition into coaching for his alma mater.

Spiller, who played for the Tigers from 2006-’09, will join Clemson’s coaching staff for the 2020 season as he looks to help others achieve the same success he had.

C.J. Spiller hired as coach at Clemson

Spiller’s return to Clemson as a coach on Swinney’s staff is a fitting reunion. Swinney was Clemson’s lead recruiter in 2006, when the team signed Spiller as a five-star recruit out of Florida.

When Spiller joined the Tigers, the program was far from the college football powerhouse it has since become. The year before Spiller enrolled, the Tigers went 8-6 and the team went 8-5 in Spiller’s first season.

Swinney would take over as Clemson’s interim coach during the 2008 season. It would prove to be a turning point for the program and was a pivotal point in Spiller’s career.

“We just added another pretty good unpaid grad intern named C.J. Spiller. I’m very excited about having him join us,” Swinney said, via The State. “He told me on Sunday he was wanting to start his coaching career. He’s gonna get his Masters in athletic leadership. He actually joined us today, so I’m really excited about having that guy.”

Now, a decade after they last worked together, Spiller will join Swinney’s coaching staff as a grad intern. In that role, he will assist offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and work closely with the Tigers’ running backs, including star Travis Etienne.

C.J. Spiller’s college stats and NFL career

While many freshman don’t often make a big impact in their freshman seasons, Spiller was special the moment he stepped on the field. In his first season with the Tigers, he racked up 1,148 scrimmage yards and 12 total touchdowns.

Over the next two seasons, Spiller would continue to cause headaches for opponents. While the Tigers often limited his carries, he was a game-changing weapon whenever he got the football and posted three consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus total yards.

Clemson’s decision to hire Swinney also helped spark a breakout year for their star player. As a senior, Spiller became one of the best running backs in college football.

Clemson tailored its offense around Spiller’s speed and explosiveness, putting him in space and getting the football in his hands whenever possible. The decision paid off with the senior running back racking up 1,715 scrimmage yards with 15 total touchdowns.

Spiller was named the ACC Player of the Year and voted a unanimous All-American. Meanwhile, the Tigers won nine games, including the Music City Bowl.

A few months later, Spiller was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012, following a career-best season when he rushed for 1,244 yards and scored eight total touchdowns.

Spiller would play in the NFL for eight seasons, spending time with the Bills, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. When his career came to an end, he finished with 3,451 rushing yards, 1,484 receiving yards and 21 total touchdowns.