First impressions mean a lot in the world of ultra-competitive athletics, and David Clowney was fortunate to make a good one in his very first collegiate football game at Virginia Tech.
On Aug. 31, 2003, the Hokies were opening their season at home against Central Florida and were well ahead late in the game when Clowney, a true freshman at the time, made his first appearance at wide receiver. It coincided with the collegiate debut of another highly touted prospect, quarterback Marcus Vick.
It didn't take long for the two to connect. Clowney, whom the Packers drafted in the fifth round this past April, followed up a 10-yard reception with a 27-yard touchdown catch to salt away a 49-28 victory.
"It was supposed to be a skinny post route, about 10 yards, but I took it 15 and kind of kept on going," Clowney recalled. "Marcus and I clicked the first time we met as far as being on the field together. I was his go-to man from Day 1, and he already knew what I was doing (on that route)."
It was the first of six TD catches Clowney would make in his career at Virginia Tech, among 93 total receptions for 1,373 yards.
In a program that always featured multiple receivers and tough competition at the position, Clowney felt that making a big splash in his first game helped prevent him from getting lost on the depth chart.
"Definitely," Clowney said. "Being in a big-time program at Virginia Tech, I had to establish a name for myself and make sure I played as many snaps as possible that season."
Clowney couldn't remember exactly how many snaps he had played before finding the end zone that first time, but he believes it was likely less than five. The atmosphere in Blacksburg, Va., had him so amped up, and he was so new to the college game, that he was almost too excited to think after he crossed the goal line.
"It was crazy, I didn't even know what to do," Clowney said. "I didn't know who to give the ball to. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It took me about 15 minutes to get back to the sidelines, but I had a great time.
"All the coaches said, 'Welcome to the big leagues.' But now I'm in the bigger big leagues, and hopefully I can establish myself early the same way I did at Virginia Tech."