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Clemson WR picks up microphone after near leg amputation

Ashleigh Snyder
Clemson wide receiver Blackmon Huckabee Jr. speaks with The Tiger at the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex after practice on March 1, 2024.

Bruised, battered and bleeding.

That’s how one could’ve described the right leg of Clemson wide receiver Blackmon Huckabee Jr. after a practice last March when he nearly had to get his leg amputated. Just several months later, Huckabee went viral, not for his play on the gridiron but for his talent as a singer.

Huckabee took social media by storm last November when he sang the national anthem on the field in Memorial Stadium before the Tigers’ game against Georgia Tech.

Despite no prior experience singing in a stadium, the Clover, South Carolina, native delivered, causing an uproar from over 80,000 overlooking fans. The redshirt senior said he felt like he “nailed it,” and it was one of the coolest things he had done in his life.

But the journey to arrive at that moment was not pain-free.

Huckabee’s performance came months after he suffered compartment syndrome — a dangerous condition caused by pressure buildup from internal bleeding or swelling of tissues — in his right leg after taking a hit in spring practice last year. The injury nearly forced doctors to amputate his leg.

“When the injury happened, it happened so fast,” Huckabee told The Tiger in an interview. “I woke up a few hours later and had to get rushed to the ER. So, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. We had to do emergency surgery immediately. I didn’t even have time to shave my leg, which they normally do before surgery. But after the fact, it got kind of scary. When I started looking stuff up and was kind of making jokes to the trainers like, ‘Oh, I could get my leg amputated,’ and they’re like, ‘No, yeah, you were really close to getting it (amputated).’”

The near leg amputation, along with a recent fractured shin, has made Huckabee feel a little “apprehensive” about returning to the football field.

“That kind of really puts stuff in perspective. It happened overnight, and that’s how fast your life could change… You got to be versatile. And so just looking at life beyond football, the injury put that into perspective.”

Huckabee’s head coach, Dabo Swinney, was alerted to Huckabee’s ability last summer. Shortly after hearing of his talents, Swinney “put him on the spot” by asking him to perform a rendition of Chris Stapelton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” in a meeting with staff members.

Clemson wide receiver Blackmon Huckabee Jr. does individual stretching drills during practice on March 4, 2024. (Ashleigh Snyder)

The walk-on’s vocals made the room come alive, as Swinney could be seen giving a smiling nod of approval in a TikTok video of the performance. That video went viral and was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

“He’s a neat kid, and he’s got a great story,” Swinney said of Huckabee earlier this month. “Really, really cool story. And he’s a very committed guy, a tough guy. He’s had a million injuries. I mean, he’s had some of the craziest injuries. But he’s a kid that everybody loves having around; great spirit.”

While he hasn’t had many opportunities to see the field in his time at Clemson, his opportunities with a microphone have put him in just as big of a spotlight.

Swinney added that Huckabee had to miss practice one day to try out for a singing contest show. The former Furman wide receiver told the Greenville News in August that American Idol had reached out to him, and he planned to try out in front of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer even put rivalries aside two weeks after Huckabee’s national anthem performance, saying Huckabee had “a hell of a voice” before the Tigers’ game against the Gamecocks in November.

Along with singing “The Star Spangled-Banner” in Death Valley, Huckabee performed the anthem at the Kia Center on Jan. 28 for the Orlando Magic’s home game against the Phoenix Suns.

“That’s an honor to be able to go for a pro team and be in that arena,” he said. “Another feeling of, when walking up, I felt the nerves. But when I finally stood there in that moment, and you get your name announced, (thinking) ‘I’m in my element now.’ That’s just a really cool feeling to have when you do anything that you love.”

He also sang the anthem at Clemson gymnastics’ first meet of the program’s inaugural season in January and at Clemson baseball’s game against South Carolina in March.

For as long as he can remember, Huckabee said his dream has always been to be a singer.

“I always had a passion for music,” he said. “I really just wanted to start to pursue it. I started posting stuff on social media and started to gain a little bit of attention there.”

As of Tuesday, Huckabee has amassed nearly 86,000 followers and 1.8 million likes on TikTok, where he posts videos of him singing covers of songs such as Morgan Wallen’s “Spin You Around” and Train’s “Drops of Jupiter.”

Before transferring to Clemson as a walk-on, Huckabee spent one season at Furman in 2020. In his senior year at Clover High School, Huckabee caught 28 passes for 488 yards and three touchdowns. He has yet to record a reception for the Tigers.

Huckabee’s days as a football player are numbered, as he is set to enter his fifth college football season and his fourth at Clemson.

As the chapter of Huckabee’s football career likely comes to a close, he is looking forward to releasing his first single, titled “Take Your Time,” in May. He describes his style of singing as pop and R&B.

“I think everyone’s gonna enjoy it.”

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Justin Robertson
Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
Ashleigh Snyder
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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