CLEMSON, S.C. — Patrick Phibbs already had a college football national championship ring to his credit, but he admits the one he will soon receive holds more weight.
Phibbs, a native of Treesdale and 2015 graduate of Central Catholic High School, was Clemson’s long-snapper this past season, including during the team’s 44-16 defeat of Alabama in the title game Jan. 7.
He was a back-up when the Tigers won it all in 2016. He dressed for that championship contest, but did not play.
“Winning that first one was great, but I was on the field for this one,” said Phibbs. “I actually played and it means a bit more to me.”
This year’s game was played in front of 75,000 fans at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
“We scored our first touchdown early in the game,” said Phibbs. “I go out to snap for the extra point and the place was going crazy, but I had to focus on my job.”
Phibbs, a redshirt junior, played an important role in keeping the Crimson Tide on the ropes. He snapped on six successful kicks (one field goal and five extra points) and also sent the ball back to punter Will Spiers, who averaged 44.3 yards on three boots.
“Will did a great job of flipping the field,” said Phibbs. “We were never really backed up in our own end and that was big for us.”
Clemson’s win ended its season with a perfect 15-0 record. It was the sixth time in school history that the Tigers have ended a campaign with an undefeated record and marked the first year since Penn’s 1897 squad that a major college team went 15-0.
Phibbs won the top long-snapper spot prior to the start of the 2017 season, which ended with a 24-6 loss to Alabama in the national semifinals.
“We had won the title the year before and were on top of the mountain,” he said, “but we weren’t used to winning something, then coming back and trying to do it again. Losing was pretty disappointing, a rude-awakening.
“We had several players on that team who had a chance to declare for the NFL Draft. They would have been picked pretty high, too, but decided to come back. That’s when we knew that 2018 had a chance to be really special.”
Phibbs, originally a walk-on, was rewarded with a scholarship last year. The Tigers avoided tripping up in a regular-season game in which they were heavy favorites.
The Tigers won their final 10 games, including a semifinal win over Notre Dame, by an average score of 47-11. The domination was due in large part to the play of true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who passed for 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season.
“He’s not stuck up and talks to everyone,” said Phibbs. “Then he goes out onto the field and plays like he has. He doesn’t panic, unlike a lot of freshmen. I really believe he can become one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time.”