In these trying times without any live sports happening in America, The Basement is searching all ends of the earth for content. Today I’ll be kicking off a segment we’d like to call “Where Are They Now?” where we highlight some household names that might have slipped through the cracks of your memories. First up on my list is one of my favorite college athletes of all time, CJ Spiller.
For those who can’t wrap their heads around the excellence that was CJ Spiller’s tenure at Clemson, take a gander at the last game of his career in the ’09 ACC Championship Game, in which they lost 39-34 to Georgia Tech and he STILL won game MVP with 301 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.
I mean, the dude is second all-time in NCAA all-purpose yards with 7,483, has the FBS record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns with seven, was a three-time All-ACC selection, the 2009 ACC Player of the Year, 2009 All-American, oh- and don’t forget he was a three-time All-American in track and field. He also became the third player in Clemson history to have his number retired.
These undeniable stats led him to be the #9 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Bills. His first two years in the NFL were underwhelming by the standards seen at Clemson as he only collected 844 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 2010-11 combined.
The 2012-13 season was a different story as we got to see the Mr. Excitement that we had been waiting for. Spiller reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season on just 154 carries: the fewest amount in 78 (!!) years. He finished the year with 1,244 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while adding 459 receiving yards and two TDs while being named to his first Pro Bowl.
Another 933 yards on the ground in 2013 saw Spiller look to be hitting his stride, but in 2014, his season ended early with a broken collarbone and his career was never the same. In 2015, CJ signed a four-year deal with the Saints, but after one season, the two sides split and Spiller pinballed between the Seahawks, Jets and Chiefs before seeing his last league action during the 2017-18 season.
Spiller is now a dedicated family man and quote jar enthusiast according to his Instagram page. He also runs his own football camps out of Clemson where he passes along his knowledge from the field, but more importantly off the field.
I understand the shelf life for running backs is particularly low, but I also feel like we were robbed of what had the potential to be an illustrious and fun career for one of the most electric ball-carriers to ever grace the college football landscape. As a lifelong Clemson fan, I grew up watching CJ’s success and will always be sad that he never got to burst on to become a true NFL star. At the same time, he was the highlight of my 11-year-old self’s Saturdays. Seeing that #28 in the orange and purple house kickoffs and break ankles brought me so much joy and was a huge factor in helping me fall in love with college football.