There is an important game in Arlington, Texas on Saturday and a Clemson football fan in Texas can’t wait to cheer the Tigers on.
As the Clemson football team is preparing for the College Football Playoffs Cotton Bowl matchup with Notre Dame, in Arlington, Texas, Ethan Shelby waits in Houston for the big game.
Ethan, a third grader at Canterbury Elementary in Edinburg, TX, is the son of Patrick and Shelby Shelby(yes, her first name is Shelby too) both graduates of Hardin Simmons University in Abilene.
On Dec. 19, the early football signing day, head coach Dabo Swinney talked about the reach of the Clemson brand and signed 27 players from 14 states.
But not among the signees were any players from the state of Texas. There have been seven to sign with Clemson since 1980 and presently, tight end J.C. Chalk is the only player on the roster from the Lone Star State.
"“I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”"
Ethan’s a huge Clemson football fan and hopes to be a Tiger in 2028.
So how does an eight-year-old from Texas become a Clemson football fan?
We asked Ethan just that.
"In 2015, I started watching Clemson football and Deshaun Watson on YouTube highlight videos. I really liked the way they played fast and scored a lot of points. Me and my dad watched them lose the 2015 championship to Alabama and in 2016, Deshaun Watson carried them back to the championship, and they won. I really liked watching Coach Swinney dance in the locker room after the game with the team, and he also made it exciting to me to watch."
His dad, Patrick, is the offensive coordinator and wide receivers’ coach at Weslaco High School in Weslaco, TX and most of his colleagues are alumni and fans of Texas A&M.
Ethan regularly accompanies Patrick to work happily wearing his Clemson gear but after the Tigers defeated Texas A&M 28-26 in September, his attire attracted more stares than usual. “They were not happy when we took them down this year at their house,” he said. “So they like to mess with me when I wear my Clemson shirt to the office.”
Ethan has Clemson shirts, pants, hats, socks, etc., that he wears everywhere.
However, when making the trip to Houston to visit family on Christmas Eve, Ethan packed everything except his socks.
“Ethan forgot to pack socks but remembered to pack his Clemson Flag,” said Shelby via Twitter.
The aspiring wide receiver/punt returner likes waving the flag while running down the street and indoors when Clemson scores. This season, he’s waved his flag repeatedly, because the No. 2 Tigers have scored a ton of points and are 13-0.
Ethan told us his favorite Clemson player is receiver Hunter Renfrow, and he really likes head coach Dabo Swinney. In particular, he likes Swinney’s “awesome” dance moves and how he teaches players to compete and work hard.
Santa didn’t bring him Hunter or Dabo for Christmas, but he did leave more Clemson stuff under the tree.
“Santa hook this boy up.” Shelby tweeted on Christmas Day.
Now with his bed covered in orange and purple, Ethan will continue to dream of visiting and eventually playing in Death Valley.
When asked if he would like to play football at Clemson, he said. “I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”
The Shelby family also includes Ethan’s twin sister Elynn, older brother Blake and baby sister Lawsyn. On Saturday, the Texas family will watch the Cotton Bowl together and hope the Tigers dance in AT&T Stadium.