Maye's Tribute Leaves Hunter Speechless


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Brandon Maye, wearing Hunter's number 17, led the Tigers' defense with 13 tackles and an interception.
Brandon Maye, wearing Hunter's number 17, led the Tigers' defense with 13 tackles and an interception.

CLEMSON --Former Clemson linebacker and current Clemson student assistant Stanley Hunter left the locker room before Saturday’s season opener against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, and thought he was prepared for the usual sights and sounds of Death Valley.

What he wasn’t prepared for, however, was the sight of sophomore linebacker Brandon Maye running around out on the field, wearing Hunter’s number 17 jersey, and it took time before Hunter could regain his usually stoic composure.

“I came out of the locker room, and I saw it, and I was speechless,” Hunter said after the game. “It was very emotional to see that, and I broke down. He came and picked me up today, and he said ‘I got you all night.’ It was just very emotional, and something I can’t explain. It is something that you always wanted, and you worked so hard at it, and then it’s gone.”

Hunter was forced to quit football last month after doctors couldn’t control his epileptic seizures, and he remains on medical scholarship. As a way to honor Hunter, several of his teammates have asked head coach Dabo Swinney for permission to wear number 17 in games this season, and Saturday night was Maye’s turn, and he was the defensive star of the game, tallying 13 tackles and intercepting a pass in the first half that set up Clemson’s first field goal. It was his first career interception.

“When he told me a couple of weeks ago that he was going to wear my number, I thought I was prepared to see it out there,” Hunter said. “And he had a great game. At halftime, we were joking with him, and telling him that he would need to wear that number all season long if he was going to keep playing like that. I was trying to watch him, but I was also helping [defensive coordinator Kevin] Coach Steele a lot. But every time I looked up, he was making plays. I felt like I was out there making plays, and every time the coach would say ’17, come here’ I would look too because I am so used to 17 being me.”

Now, 17 will be a different teammate each week, starting with former Byrnes High School teammate and quarterback Willy Korn this week at Georgia Tech, followed by Byrnes alums Chad Diehl (Boston College) and Xavier Dye (Texas Christian). Receiver Jacoby Ford has already called for the number when the Tigers play the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia.

“It was just a blessing to me that my teammates came to me and wanted to honor me this way because I was a good friend to them,” Hunter said. “I am so undeserving of this, but it means the world to me. “

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