CLEMSON — Two members of Clemson University’s renowned Central Spirit student organization were chosen to represent the school at the 28th edition of The Home Depot College Football Awards Thursday in Atlanta. Abby Eubanks and Cambridge Gamble will attend the annual event, which will be shown live on ESPN at 7 p.m. from the College Football Hall of Fame. Clemson is a semifinalist for the Taco Bell Live Más Student Section of the Year, along with LSU, Penn State and Texas A&M.
The two students will join Dabo Swinney and several of his staff members, as well as student-athletes Travis Etienne and Christian Wilkins, who are finalists for major national awards. They have also been invited to take part in the Red Carpet Special — an hour typically filled with entrances, photographs and interviews with players and coaches — at 6 p.m. prior to the main event.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be going to an ESPN awards show,” Eubanks said. “My parents always tell me I’m so lucky. When I told my dad about this opportunity, he couldn’t believe the number of unbelievable things I’ve been able to experience because of Clemson football.”
Eubanks and Gamble, both seniors and proud front-row fans known for applying full-body paint for Tiger football games, were identified through the consistent use of the preferred hashtag (#LiveMasStudentSectionChallenge) on their individual social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram.
Eubanks attended the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Tampa, Florida, as part of Taco Bell’s free ticket distribution for students (both participating schools were provided 500 tickets). A native of Fort Mill, South Carolina, she has been a member of Central Spirit since her sophomore year and organized this year’s First Friday Parade. She is a parks, recreation and tourism management major on track to earn her degree in May 2019.
Gamble, an elementary education major from Greeleyville in Williamsburg County who also graduates next May, is part of Clemson’s Call Me MISTER program and joined Central Spirit as a sophomore. Known for extravagant gameday outfits complete with a wide variety of sunglasses and a giant wig that over time became his signature element, Gamble said he was honored to be selected to represent Clemson at the awards show.
“Central Spirit takes pride in being the leaders of the student section, regardless of sport,” he said. “To be invited to this awards show with a friend who’s sat next to me for a long period of time is special. To be chosen as representatives for Clemson is an amazing feeling.”
The criteria used to determine the winner is based on creative energy, endurance, impact, social good and tradition. A committee made up of broadcasters and journalists and chaired by ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis will make the final vote, which will be revealed live during the two-hour show. Clemson was honored as Student Section of the Week following the Tigers’ 41-7 win over NC State in October.
A typical gameday consists of eight to 10 students from Central Spirit — Eubanks and Gamble chief among them — applying full-body, latex paint based on a planned theme over a three-hour time period under the direction of Donovan Waddell, also a senior. With a number of noon kickoffs this season at home, Eubanks said the painting often began at 6 a.m. so they could be the first fans through the gates when they opened.
Both students said they look forward to soaking up Thursday’s festivities and being around so many great players and coaches. But Gamble isn’t afraid to take it a step further.
“I’m confident we’re going to win because we’ve been the most lit, the loudest and proudest all season long,” he proclaimed. “Plus, we’re the only student section representing a team who made it to the College Football Playoff … I feel as though we had some type of impact on that.”
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