0

Gwinnett Grads: Palmer gets big game, scary concussion in Miami win

As the final seconds ticked off the clock last Saturday in Clemson's huge 40-37 win over Miami, the players began celebrating.

Michael Palmer, the Tigers' injured tight end, didn't want to miss it. He had played a big role in the victory before a scary concussion ended his day, so he didn't want to miss the jubilation.

"I was sitting on the (exam) table and I took off out the tunnel, no socks and no shoes on," the Parkview grad said. "I started celebrating with everyone. It was awesome."

Palmer is a force as a blocking tight end at a shade over 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, but he showed what he can do as a receiver in the Miami victory. He caught five passes for a career-high 74 yards and a touchdown.

For the season, he is second on the team with 21 catches for 246 yards and two TDs. He is the first Clemson tight end to have 20 or more catches in 25 years.

"We have concentrated on throwing to the tight end more and a big reason is the ability of Michael Palmer," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in a Clemson sports information release on Palmer. "He has outstanding hands, knows his assignments and is a team leader."

Palmer, who earned the John Mackey Award National Player of the Week as the top tight end in the country this week, made several big plays in the upset of Miami, but many people will remember how he left the game just as well. After catching a pass in the flat, he was upended and spun by a Miami defender, then another Hurricane delivered a helmet-to-helmet shot.

He has no memory of the hit itself, but remembers the rest of the game.

"I watched the TV copy and our normal film (of the hit)," Palmer said. "It was a nice little hit. He got me right in the temple."

The senior, considered an NFL prospect, spent the rest of the game in the locker room with a concussion. Doctors also worked on injuries to both of his elbows, stitching up his left elbow and taking an X-ray of his right one.

Palmer is considered doubtful for today's game with Coastal Carolina, but is hopeful for a return the following week for the Florida State game as Clemson pursues an ACC title game berth.

"We had three close losses, but we learned a lot from that," Palmer said. "We're in the driver's seat now in our division if we play like we know we can play. Hopefully, we'll be in the ACC title game and get Georgia Tech again."

FOOTBALL

Coffey continues to shine

Campbellsville (Ky.), ranked 24th nationally among NAIA schools, is getting a big contribution from sophomore David Coffey, a Collins Hill grad.

Coffey has helped anchor the team's offensive line, starting 19 consecutive games at center. He also doubles as a heavyweight wrestler for the school, ranking eighth nationally in the preseason NAIA Wrestling Coaches Poll.

Quick hits

Brookwood grad Kenny Miles continued to carry South Carolina's rushing attack last weekend, gaining 102 yards on 18 carries in a 14-10 win over Vanderbilt. ... Although his team lost 38-28 to The Citadel last Saturday, Furman's David Hendrix had a big day. The Buford grad caught two 29-yard touchdown passes, one in the first quarter and one in the third quarter. He now has 15 catches for 299 yards this season. ... Buford grad Omar Hunter made two solo tackles from the defensive line as Florida escaped an upset bid from Mississippi State last weekend.

BASKETBALL

Richmann hired as Oglethorpe coach

Elizabeth Richmann, a Central Gwinnett grad, was named as an assistant basketball coach this week at her alma mater, Oglethorpe University.

Richmann graduated from Oglethorpe in May with a degree in mathematics, earning the Oglethorpe Cup for her overall accomplishments at the school. On the court, she ranks in the school's top 10 in six statistical categories - she's the all-time leader in blocks and second in rebounding.

Oglethorpe won 96 games in her four seasons, earning four NCAA Tournament berths with a Final Four trip in 2008.

CROSS COUNTRY

Mattix earns All-Peach Belt nod

Shiloh grad Tyler Mattix, a runner at North Georgia, placed eighth at last weekend's Peach Belt Conference Championships to earn second-team all-conference honors in cross country. He's the first Saint male runner to earn all-conference since 2006.

Mattix posted his best college time of 27 minutes, 10.74 seconds at the conference meet. He led the team to a fourth-place finish.

VOLLEYBALL

Troyer named all-tournament

Trinity University (Texas) setter Caiti Troyer, a Wesleyan grad, was named to the Trinity Fall Classic All-Tournament Team after helping the team to the championship. The junior had 55 assists and seven digs for Trinity, ranked 17th nationally in Division III.

SWIMMING

Partin named swimmer of week

Parkview product George Partin was named Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association swimmer of the week Wednesday after winning four races the previous weekend.

The Gardner-Webb (N.C.) junior won the 100 freestyle (48.23 seconds) and 200 free (1:45.42) in a Friday meet against UNC-Wilmington, then won the 200 free (1:50.10) and the 200 free relay (1:30.52) the following day against Catawba.

SOCCER

Hackett, Brooks lead victory

North Gwinnett grad Shannon Hackett and Collins Hill grad Kristen Brooks led Berry College to a 5-0 win over Brewton-Parker last Saturday. Hackett scored two goals and Brooks, normally a field player, filled in at goalie and recorded the shutout.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.