Drew Costa figured that at this point, the call would never come.
He tried out for the Clemson football team in each of his first two years on campus, but there was no room on the roster for a place-kicker.
“We really liked him in the fall, but we just didn’t have a spot,” coach Dabo Swinney recalled. “We inventoried him. We were going to bring him out in the spring.”
Costa underwent hernia surgery shortly before that spring session and could not kick. Another walk-on, Greg Huegel, seized that roster spot, and through the next two season, he developed into an All-American.
Costa presumed his opportunity would not return. Now a senior, he redirected his hope toward medical school.
However, in an ironic series of events, Huegel suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice on Sept. 20. His backup, Alex Spence, struggled in relief. Earlier this week, Costa finally received that call.
Swinney invited him to join the team. Costa attended his first practice Tuesday. He will compete with Spence and Christian Groomes for the starting role.
“I told him he’s on a day-to-day contract, a kick-to-kick contract,” Swinney said. “I’m bringing somebody in just to see if we can get our guys a little bit better.”
Costa started three years at place-kicker, punter and kickoff specialist at Bishop England High School in Charleston. He helped the Bishops win state championships in 2011 and 2012.
According to Bishop England coach John Cantey, Costa’s career-long field goal was 47 yards. He also converted kicks from 42 and 40 yards.
“I was confident sending him out there,” Cantey said. “I felt like we always had a shot to make it whenever we got within a 40-yard field goal.”
Jay Costa believes his son has never lost the self-assurance he carried at Bishop England – though he understands the unique circumstances in which his opportunity returned.
These calls do not usually occur seven weeks into a season, but after Spence shanked two field goals inside 40 yards during the three-point loss at Syracuse, Swinney was compelled to check his inventory.