When Clemson takes the field for the first time in 2018, it will do so with expectations of national championship contention and a fourth-straight trip to the College Football Playoff. But before thinking of the postseason, the Tigers have to take care of its season-opening opponent, Furman, and that could mean going head-to-head with one of their classmates.
Furman quarterback Harris Roberts is enrolled in a cooperative educational partnership program between Furman and Clemson that has allowed him to continue playing for the Paladins while pursuing an engineering degree at Clemson. Furman, a private liberal arts college in Greenville, South Carolina, doesn't offer an engineering degree, so after earning a bachelor's degree in pre-engineering, Roberts started traveling 30 miles to Clemson for class in pursuit of a second bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.
"This was my best opportunity to play high-level football and study engineering. I jumped at the chance," Roberts told the Greenville News. "The drive back and forth sometimes gets a little monotonous. That takes a lot of time out of the day that I could use for studying for class, studying film or taking a nap. Being able to manage my time is the most difficult part, but it's been going well."
The Greenville News, via Furman's Sports Information Department, reports that "several" Paladins have participated in the partnership program with Clemson over the last 30 years but none in the same season as a Clemson-Furman game.
"Once they figure out that I play football at Furman, they're kind of shell-shocked," Roberts said. "They just kind of think it's funny that they're going to class with someone who is going to play against them."
Furman was the only Division I school to offer Roberts a scholarship, and after backing up all-conference quarterback P.J. Blazejowski in 2017, he's in the competition for the starting job this fall. If he wins the job, he'll get the fine honor of starting the 2018 season avoiding pressure from one of the best defensive lines in Clemson football history.