A backyard game of catch manifested into a football prophecy.
Barry Streeter inadvertently tossed the football over his son's head at their Gettysburg, Pa., home. To his surprise, 4-year-old Brandon fired the Nerf ball back with the form of a NFL superstar.
Rolling to his right, the little boy cocked his arm and delivered a perfect spiral into his father's chest. Just to be certain it wasn't an illusion, the football coach purposely overthrew his son again.
Same result. The Streeter boy was destined to be a quarterback.
"He had a natural over-the-top motion," the elder Streeter remembered. "He looked like he could throw the ball pretty well."
From the state that has produced quarterback legends Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Johnny Unitas, Streeter has been immersed in the game since childhood. Dad has been a coach at Gettysburg College since 1971 and the head man for the last 22 seasons. Brandon just naturally fit as a quarterback.
"That was my choice," Brandon said. "I always loved to throw the ball."
Streeter has emerged from the rubble of Clemson's 3-8 record in 1998 and established himself as a record-breaking player entering tonight's nationally televised game at No. 8 Virginia Tech (8 p.m., ESPN).
In the Tigers' 33-14 victory over Virginia on Sept. 11, Streeter broke his own Clemson record for passing efficiency. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound graduate student completed 24 of 32 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns.
Engineering scoring drives on six of the Tigers' first seven possessions, Streeter showcased his command of first-year coach Tommy Bowden's complex offense.
Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez said Streeter acclimated himself to the system quicker than anyone he's ever coached. Rodriguez commended his senior quarterback for remaining poised despite the Tigers' season-opening loss to Marshall.
"He's got a pretty good grasp of what we've put in," Rodriguez said. "The guys know they can count on him in pressure situations."
Following his performance against the Cavaliers, Streeter was USA Today's player of the week. He is second in the ACC in passing efficiency, behind Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton, who is first nationally. Streeter's ability to soak in the intricacies of the new offense is a product of having a coaching father.
While Barry Streeter wouldn't allow Brandon and his older brother Jason to play Pee Wee football, they tagged along at games and practices.
"You would go home and he'd know what was going on," Barry Streeter said. "He wasn't just standing there holding the (headset) cord. He really studied the game at a young age."
As with his fluid throwing motion, Brandon's football intellect developed naturally. He learned to read defenses and pinpoint weaknesses. Streeter used that knowledge at Gettysburg High School to pass for more than 4,000 yards his final two seasons and guide his team to a 22-3 record.
Winning supersedes personal records in the Streeter household. However, his record-setting day against Virginia was overwhelming.
"I always dreamed about it," Streeter said. "This offense gives me the opportunity to make big plays. When you get recruited, they always talk it up about how we're going to change to passing. I was hoping it would happen. Fortunately, every year we threw it more and more."
More eyes are focused on Streeter's passes these days and he has earned the confidence of his teammates. Now, the Tigers are the benefactors of his textbook throwing technique.
"Brandon is going to make things happen," said Clemson left tackle T.J. Watkins. "As long as we're getting our job done, he'll get the ball downfield."
Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221
|Clemson at Virginia Tech|
Clemson -- QB Brandon Streeter (Sr., 47-66-2, 530 yards), WR Rod Gardner (Jr., 17-177), LB Keith Adams (27 tackles, seven for loss). Virginia Tech -- QB Michael Vick (Fr., 6-foot-1, 211), RB Shyrone Stith (Jr., 124 yards vs UAB), DE Corey Moore (Sr., 3 sacks vs UAB).
What to look for:
The Hokies battered Streeter in last year's 37-0 victory. The Tigers will attempt to negate Tech's defensive speed with quick timing passes. Clemson hopes to produce big passing plays by catching the blitz-happy Hokies in man-to-man coverage.
Virginia Tech -- DT Nathaniel Williams (sprained MCL) is doubtful. Clemson -- RG Will Merritt (separated shoulder) is out five weeks, TE Pat Cyrgalis (sprained ankle) is probable, DE Gary Childress (pulled calf muscle) is out.