I met these four guys through a group called Central Spirit, an organization that supports Clemson Athletics, tailgates, gets painted up, and gets loud. These four boys were in director positions when I started up with the organization, and after I painted up a few times, got to know who I was, really embraced me into their friend circle, even though they were juniors and I was a little freshman. That meant a lot back then, and still does now. It was great to be included so much just as I was starting college.
Chris was my fellow ginger in crime. The loudest, proudest Irishman on the planet, Chris could outdrink anyone, and be still singing karaoke songs at the end of the day. He was the first to arrive to tailgate, and promptly put up a 20 foot pole that carried a Clemson flag followed by an Irish flag. He now works pretty close to school, but still always comes back to tailgate during football season, bearing beer, food, and laughs.
I didn't know Dukes as well as the others until our football team reached the ACC Championship my freshman year, and we road tripped down to Tampa Bay. We had intended to camp, and it ended up pouring not to mention that we also were too late to get to the KOA. Dukes was always jolly, that's the only way to put it, and when we snuck six people into the Super 8 that night he found great amusement in the fact I slept under a table, like we were having an earthquake or something. Dukes is now married to a wonderful woman, and one of my favorite lines from him came recently at a baseball tailgate. "When I was in college, I used to chase shots with more shots. Now I chase shots with naps!"
Deery is an all around stand up guy. He ended up taking over the presidency in Central Spirit after some major issues with the President at the time treating our student advisors rudely and letting emotions get in the way of important decisions. Deery reluctantly took up office, but I think he's one of the best presidents we had. He has this uncanny ability to get along with everybody, no matter what their position is. He always makes sure everything is talked through and that everyone is at least civil with each other. He's a guy I always looked up to and admired and I'm not even sure if he knows that. Deery is now married also, and is also living pretty near to school, and makes a point of coming to all the football games.
Justin was the guy I think I grew closest with over the years at Clemson. He certainly wrapped me under his wing, got me to be a lot more social. Oddly enough some of the best talks we've had together were post-party, piss drunk, both drinking our water and just sitting up and chatting until 5 or 6am. Justin stuck around a lot after graduation since he lived in just the town over, and despite his sometimes childish manner, he is actually a genuinely good person and he's another one of those people I'll just never forget. Justin now lives in the town adjacent to Clemson, with his girlfriend and their dog (in a house they planned and had built together! Recession my butt...).