CLEMSON, SC - Brandon Streeter the toughest quarterback in Clemson history?
Streeter, who already has his degree in health science, should get a purple heart of some sort Saturday before his final game in Death Valley.
It wouldn't erase what might be his most enduring memory of Death Valley: his shoulder plowing up the Memorial Stadium turf. It would, though, give credit where credit is due.
"I think Brandon being able to come back this soon from his injury says a lot about him," said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. "If you watched the way he got hit in the Virginia Tech game, then you know he is a tough guy."
Virginia Tech used Streeter for a punching bag. ESPN's sideline reporter turned into the ringside announcer. Streeter's dad, Barry Streeter, watched helplessly from the sideline as his son was beat up and then threw two interceptions in the final two minutes that iced the game for Virginia Tech.
Football isn't a game for the faint hearted. The beating Streeter took that night, however, would have made Dick Butkus blush.
"It really helps to have a tough guy at quarterback in our offense because we often have give receivers and no blockers in the back field," Bowden said. "I think his toughness has a been a real positive influence on our team."
What took Streeter out? Falling on his throwing shoulder the next week against North Carolina. He broke it and then stayed in the game to scramble on the next play for 13 yards. On his way back to the huddle he collapsed.
Somehow he returned last week against Wake Forest, two weeks earlier than the most optimistic predictions.
"It's neat how fast I came back," he said. "A positive attitude kept me going."
It's as if Streeter has killed his injuries with kindness. He's rarely without a smile. While he was sidelined he was Woody Dantzler's biggest supporter.
"Streeter's my boy," said Dantzler. "He's been here since I've been here and he's helped me out a lot."
If it had been Streeter's first injury at Clemson, it might not have been as easy to come back. He's been through the routine.
He separated his shoulder against Florida State in 1997. It was his first start, his first big chance. On Clemson's first possession he took the team 80 yards for a touchdown. He ran 32 yards for the score. Twenty-six plays into the game a Florida State defensive lineman planted his left shoulder into the turf. The injury effectively ended his season.
The next spring he fractured his ankle. He returned for the 1998 season as the starter, but wasn't a fun year. He spent most of Clemson's 3-8 season looking over his shoulder, wondering when the next hit was coming.
Now he's preparing for his final home game. He's survived like few in his class have.
"A lot of people are talking about how quick I came back," he said. "I'm just happy about the win on Saturday. I'll take this week one day at a time."
There are 13 seniors playing Saturday, a number inflated by seven walk-ons. He's one of just three players left from the class that entered in 1995.
None have endured like Streeter.