CLEMSON — Two members of Clemson University’s renowned Central Spirit student organization were chosen to represent the school at the 29th edition of The Home Depot College Football Awards, which will be held Thursday, Dec. 12, in Atlanta.
Kelsey Vinson of and Cal Bedenbaugh, both of Laurens, will attend the annual event which originates live on ESPN at 7 p.m. from the Chick-fil-A 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 Utah. It marks the second straight year Clemson, LSU and Penn State have been semifinalists.
The two students will be on site along with Clemson representatives Dabo Swinney, several of his staff members and student-athlete Isaiah Simmons, a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. Vinson and Bedenbaugh have also been invited to be present for 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.
“Clemson is the best student section in the country because we are lit, loud and proud,” said Vinson, president of Central Spirit and a senior health science major. “The energy is constant, from the front row to the top of the upper deck. Our energy radiates! We stay the entire game and cheer loud for everything. Tiger pride can be seen everywhere, not just within the gates of Death Valley.”
The criteria used to determine the winner are based on creative energy, endurance, impact and tradition. A committee made up of broadcasters and journalists and chaired by ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis will hold 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’ 24-10 win over Texas A&M on Sept. 7.
Vinson and other students were featured in an ESPN-produced docuseries promoting the Live Más Student Section. In the videos, she describes Central Spirit as the “premier traditions and athletics club” on Clemson’s campus.
“I knew before I set foot on campus that I wanted to be in Central Spirit,” she said. “I always wondered as a Clemson fan who those people were that were on the field waving flags and painted up. When I became president, I was very excited because I was now the one running this group I had always seen and admired.”
In addition to naming the top student section, this is the sixth consecutive year Taco Bell and the College Football Playoff will be teaming up to send 4,000 students to congregate in the Live Más Student Section during the semifinals. Clemson faces Ohio State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Glendale, Arizona at 8 p.m. ET.
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