Clemson's opener will be a first for Pagano

by - Staff Writer -

In a little over 80 days, Clemson fans, coaches and players will gather in Death Valley in eager anticipation of the season opener against the Georgia Bulldogs. For most of those gathered in Clemson for what will certainly be a hot and sultry evening, seeing a game inside of Clemson Memorial Stadium isn’t anything new.

Even the new recruits who grew up in other parts of the country will have visited Death Valley for a game.

For one 2013 signee, however, that game against the Bulldogs will be his first-ever Clemson football game, and he can’t imagine playing in the first game he will attend in the stadium.

“I just can’t imagine what it will be I like. I know it will be crazy,” said Scott Pagano, the 4-star defensive tackle out of Honolulu. “I am just counting down the days, working hard in the weight room and on the field and trying to get ready and get my body ready. I am anxious to see what it’s really like – I have seen the videos on YouTube and I’ve seen the games on television. The atmosphere and the stadium are unreal, and the fans look like they are crazy. TigerWalk looks like it is really exciting, and I get chicken skin when I see the videos.”

Pagano will make the long flight from Hawaii in just a few weeks as he begins the next chapter of his life.

“I will be there in two-and-a-half weeks,” he said. “My mom and I are going to fly out there and stay with my aunt, who lives close by, until I have to report to Clemson. I am pretty anxious about going to college and seeing what it will be like going to school and going to football practice and carrying a tutor. It is going to be interesting. I am anxious to see how the first year goes – I know it will be a struggle but I know I can get through it.”

Unlike many recruits – whose family members are little more than a three hour drive away – Pagano knows his family is five time zones and a little body of water called the Pacific Ocean away from Clemson. However, his dad Scott is in the U.S. Navy and he hopes that his family will be able to move to the East Coast at some point in the next two years.

“It’s going to be hard not having that family support,” he said. “My parents are going to try and come up for every home game, but it will be different coming home from practice and not seeing my parents and having a home-cooked meal. It will be pretty different, but hopefully by my sophomore year my parents will be able to move to South Carolina or Virginia. Until then, I know it won’t be the same.”

Pagano will arrive on Clemson’s campus less than a year after a marathon recruiting trip with his family to see many of the schools that he was interested in. Midway through the trip, however, the long flights and the long drives throughout the southern part of the U.S. began to wear on Pagano and his siblings.

“My sister Ryenn fell asleep twice on the couches in coach’s offices,” he said. “She did it the first time in the office of Les Miles at LSU. The second time she did it was on the couch in [Alabama’s] Nick Saban’s office. He offered her his blanket, and he was laughing so hard because she was snoring. That’s the first time I had seen him laugh. That was a memorable moment, and one I will never forget.”

Due to the fatigue of the journey, Pagano told his mother Jenn that he didn’t want to visit Clemson, but Jenn won out and told Scott he would regret it if he didn’t at least give the campus and coaches a chance. He made it into town for the All In Cookout, and he knew where he wanted to be.

“I am so glad I came to Clemson,” he said. “I got on the campus and I knew it was like a family. I knew it was where I had to be, and now I can’t wait to get back and get started.”

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