“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Coming from one of the most notable faces in college football, Will and Drew Swinney have become accustomed to having attention around their name. Since their dad, Dabo Swinney, took over the Tigers program during the 2008 season and has sparked them to some of their greatest years ever, Will and Drew have experienced Clemson’s brightest moments firsthand. As Will and Drew have grown up around the game and worked on becoming the best football players they can be, it has become a priority for them to use their platform and gifts to make an impact on those they interact with.
Will Swinney says that growing up, faith was always a priority for him. “I am blessed to have two Christian parents who made sure I heard the gospel growing up. I decided for myself around seven years old to follow Jesus. I have been growing ever since. We’re never gonna have it all figured it out or get it all right, but when you truly have a relationship with Jesus, He will make you more like Him over time.” After joining the Clemson Tigers as a walk-on in 2017, Will has worked his way to becoming a key contributor at wide receiver for the Tigers as well as their starting holder since his freshman year. Throughout his 56 career games, which rank tied for 9th most in program history, it has been faith that has driven Will to where he is today. “Faith not only influences my football career, it drives everything I do. I try to follow Colossians 3:23 and do everything I do for the Lord and not man. It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations of others when playing sports, but it’s always important to just focus on playing for that audience of one instead. God is pleased when we use our talents to glorify Him.”
Now having graduated Clemson and going after his masters degree, which will also allow him to play another year for the Tigers, he says his faith has continued to grow and become the cornerstone of his life. During the 2020 season, Will Swinney was named a William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist, a prestigious award given to athletes demonstrating success on the field, in the classroom, and in their communities. As Swinney has been using his gifts to impact all those around him, he says he is reminded to trust God during all times, even when things may not always make the most sense. “The world is always changing. If my identity and joy came from it then I would be inconsistent and ultimately not satisfied. I can take rest knowing that regardless of how a season is going, God loves me and I have eternal life so I am able to have eternal joy as well.”
Younger brother Drew Swinney reflects those same words, saying the foundation of faith from his parents was pivotal in making him into who he is today. As he has continued to grow in his faith over the years, it has played a key role in his football career. “I play football, but that does not define me. That’s not who I am. I am first and foremost a child of God.” Drew says that since realizing that, he prioritizes keeping faith first and not letting football become an idol. “The air is going to go out of the ball one day for everyone. If the foundation of your life is built on a ball, or anything other than Jesus, you will never find true satisfaction. My identity and satisfaction is found in Jesus alone. At the end of the day, football is just a game, and since my identity is not in football, it allows me to play free because no matter what happens on the field, I will still have joy.”
As Drew looks towards his junior year for the Tigers, he says that through the championship games and the heartbreaking losses, the road to getting there is what matters most. “Have joy in the journey. Be great where your feet are. Win today. Every season, there is always adversity. There is always a price to be paid for what you want. It’s not supposed to be easy. If it was easy everyone would do it.” After breaking his collarbone in November, Drew says that more than ever he has learned that God is still in control. “It’s not about what happens to you, but it’s all about how you respond to what happens to you. You can either let adversity define you, destroy you, or develop you. After I broke my collarbone, I was very disappointed because I knew I was going to miss some time, but I made a decision to let God develop me and grow me through this adversity. I decided to trust His will for my life. Even when it didn’t make sense to me, I chose to be thankful because I knew that God had a plan for me.”
Although Will and Drew Swinney have never been the biggest or fastest guys on the field for the Tigers, it has been their work ethic, leadership, and heart that have earned them respect throughout the game. As the brothers look towards the 2021 season with anticipation for what it may bring, they are both reminded of what matters most. More important than the championships or touchdown receptions, Will and Drew say they are just looking to take advantage of everyday to love others and be a light in the world.
*Photos in article courtesy of Will and Drew Swinney