September 22, 2016

Clemson Football head coach Dabo Swinney has a saying that has become an organizational mantra, a way of life, a mindset: “All In.” In October 2008, Swinney, who at the time was a wide receivers coach, was unexpectedly named the Clemson Tigers’ interim head coach mid-season. He made a now-famous speech to his players, “For the next six weeks we’re going to do things differently. I know I don’t have much of a chance to get this job, but I have a chance. For the next six weeks, I’m all in— everything I’ve got.”

There’s something about the emotions college football can evoke, unlike any other sport. The way it can fill a stadium with screaming fans, then just as easily silence them with unexpected heartbreak.  The way you know nothing about the person cheering next to you other than they too have a heart filled with the same spirit, joy and stress that fills yours. The way cheers and chants are passed down as traditions year after year.  Your college team is different than your pro team; it’s more than just your favorite team, it’s part of who you are.

You’re a Texas Longhorn, a Michigan Wolverine, an Oregon Duck, or in the case of DPR’s Joey Weir, you’re a Clemson Tiger, supporting your team in the best way you can by building its new football operations center.  

DPR’s Joey Weir (on far right) was born and raised a Clemson Tiger in Clemson, South Carolina. Three generations of his family have graduated from Clemson. (Photo courtesy: Joey Weir)

Born and raised a third-generation Clemson grad in the town of Clemson, South Carolina, Weir knows every backroad, and everyone knows him. He does his laundry in loads of lights, darks and oranges. It’s hard for him to find a shirt he owns without a Clemson Tiger Paw on it. He’s driven 60 hours (30 each way) to the national championship in Phoenix, Arizona instead of flying, just so he could throw a proper tailgate. He’s paid for every meal, souvenir and expense on the road in Tiger Paw-stamped two-dollar bills, as part of a school tradition to prove that Clemson fans do indeed travel to other cities and states to support their team.  

He never wanted to go anywhere else, so he didn’t apply to any other colleges other than (you guessed it) Clemson. After beginning his career at DPR as an intern, Weir worked as a project engineer on life sciences projects with DPR’s Atlanta and Raleigh offices. When he found out DPR was building Clemson’s new $55 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. football operations center, his ears perked up; if any project was made for him, it was this one. He made a few calls, and the rest is history.

Weir is living the dream, building great things for the school he has always loved. (Photo courtesy: Paul Borick)

Weir now works in a field office covered with Clemson decorations and gear, with a project team that includes six Clemson alumni, making for a very spirited work atmosphere as they move toward their goal of completing the facility by National Signing Day in February 2017.

In his natural habitat, the world that revolves around Clemson Football, Weir has been able to get to know the team’s coaches and recruiting staff, even appearing in a series of videos made by the athletic department. When Swinney played an Undercover Boss prank on the jobsite, it was Weir who was right beside him, showing him around and introducing him to the project team as “Fred from Albuquerque.” In other videos, he tells The Tiger mascot to get out of a crane, gets hit in the head with a football and joins the offensive line playing with Mega Tonka Tiger trucks.

“To be able to work on the football operations center, and get to know the coaches and staff has been an experience I’ll never forget. As a Clemson fan, to know that we built something that will make a positive impact on this football program for years to come, has been so rewarding,” said Weir. “I stand behind Dabo Swinney, and everything that he, this team, and this building stand for and represent.”

Clemson’s football operations center will include a locker room, bowling alley, barber shop, relaxation room and golf simulator, among many other amenities. (Rendering courtesy: HOK) 

Eight years after Swinney’s emotional locker room speech, the team is coming off a dream season that sent them to last year’s national championship. Their football operations center, fully loaded with amenities including a bowling alley, hydrotherapy pools, X-ray suite, 25,000-sq.-ft. weight room, production studio, barber shop and a replica of Clemson’s famous Death Valley hill, is set to become a major tool in the competitive college football recruiting landscape.  

Weir and his team are giving it everything they’ve got to make sure the project will be the forever home where Swinney can make countless more inspirational speeches, where recruits can visit and realize what it means to be a Tiger, and where Clemson Football can build and grow their program for decades to come.  

They’re all in.